Wednesday, 18 January 2012 11:44

Where My Motivation Has Been Coming From Lately

triathlon_motivation_inspirationI consider myself to be a self-motivated person.  It doesn't take a lot to get me to move when it comes to training.  I know I want to be better and that is motivation enough.  The numbers motivate me.  If I run a 7:26 mile with a HR of 168 my next thought is how do I run that same pace with a slower heart rate or a faster pace with the same heart rate. I also have my goals for Puerto Rico and Texas which will then help shape my goals for Maine and Arizona plus another 70.3 in there which is most likely going to be Austin again (I have a score to settle with that run course.....motivation right there.)  I have the license plate cover that KC gave me for Christmas right above my medicine cabinet in my bathroom.  I have my goal times for Puerto Rico and Texas written down (on 12/26/2011) in a ziploc bag that is in the book Iron War and whenever I read the book I stare at the goals. I have focused my eating and my training to have purpose and each set is done without thought of the second session.  My focus is solely on that training session and I have a goal for each session.  I am motivated but when I came across this post I was hit with an anvil.  Sure I was doing all of these things to reach the ultimate for myself but the words resonated in a different way. If you don't read Maria Simone's blog Running A Life then stop what you are doing here, head over there and subscribe then come back. The title of the post is:  Becoming The Athlete I Have To Be. The first words of the post are: "Be the kind of person who does the types of things to have the results you want." This is not Maria's quote but one she heard from somebody else and they stuck with her.  The same way that Becoming The Athlete I Have To Be has stuck with me since I read this post. Maria discusses staying healthy, eating clean, being brave, being grateful, having fun and finally race goals.  I cannot tell you how many times I have read this post because I lost count the first day.  I kept staring at it over and over again and reading and re-reading.  I finally told myself that having those goals is great but what am I going to do to get there.  Am I going to go through the motions or am I going to push myself?  Am I going to do the things I need to do. I then read a post by one of my favorite authors Susan Lacke on No Meat Athlete about how we should express our goals to make them more real and to hold ourselves accountable.  I started doing this for Puerto Rico with Greg Larsen and once I get past Puerto Rico I will have a much better idea of time goals for Texas. That all being well and good I am letting the cat out of the bag for Puerto Rico and my goals.  I have two months exactly before the race and I want the readers of this blog to hold me accountable to these numbers and push me to become the Athlete I Have To Be. Puerto Rico Goals:
  • Swim:  35 minutes (current best in HIM: 40 minutes)
  • Bike: 2 hours 45 minutes (current best in HIM: 2 hours 49 minutes)
  • Run: 1 hour 44 minutes (current best in HIM: 1 hour 48 minutes)
  • Transition 5 minutes (current best in HIM: 5 minutes 11 seconds)
  • Total:  5 hours 10 minutes (current best in HIM: 5 hours 28 minutes)
I have been pushing my paces in the water and getting stronger.  I have been running with a purpose to achieve the 1:44 in the half-marathon by setting goal paces out of the gate and then adjusting on the fly depending on heart rate.
The Athlete I Have To Be is a 5 hour 10 minute Half-Ironman so that I can be a sub-5 Hour Half-Ironman in 2013.  Vegas is the ultimate prize!
To read Maria's blog post click [HERE]
 

What Are You Doing To Be The Athlete You Want To Be?

   
Published in Race
Monday, 20 June 2011 19:24

Mind Games.....

This entire lifestyle of endurance racing is about not just being physically ready to perform on race day but being mentally ready.  I believe that we can do anything we put our mind to.  There is no task that is insurmountable, there are just tasks that we have not solved yet.  If we look at the issue objectively and not from an emotional point of view then that issue gets whittled down. [caption id="attachment_2691" align="alignright" width="201" caption="Are There Other Choices Besides Smiling?"][/caption] Yesterday I posted about how and Ironman event is a race where you will be presented with problems and how you solve those problems will provide you with either an awesome race or one of those races that you dread.  If you know how to train your mind then these issues never seem larger than they really are. In my training and racing I never look at the distance as how much do I have left, but from the reality of how much I have accomplished.  When I get into the water for an Olympic distance event I know I have to swim 1500 meters, ride my bike 40k and run a 10k.  A total of 51.5 meters but that is the only time I look at it that way. As I swim I know how many buoys I have to pass and I divide that 1500 by the number of buoys.  If there are 5 turns, then I just tell myself that each buoy is 300 meters apart.  As I pass that first buoy I don't think to myself 'ugh I have 1200 meters to go' but instead say to myself 'awesome 300 meters done.'  As I exit the water I am not flustered that there are 50k worth of race left. I process the distance in terms of accomplishment and not in terms of what is left.  I have trained my mind to think that way.  I have trained my mind to go to mantras and positive thoughts.  If I add in negative thoughts then the race just got longer.  In reading I'm Here To Win Chris McCormack discusses the power of positivity.  He discusses having a file to go to when the going gets tough to find and remember the positive.  I couldn't agree more with him as I had already been practicing this. It was at this point that I came across an article on Active.com by Amanda McCracken for D3Multisport.com about exercises to train your brain.  This article was great and I have read it 3 or 4 times already.  For me there is no replacement for positive thinking.  If you allow the negative to get into your mind than Embracing The Suck is going to be even harder.  If you are focused on the positive then those points in a race that are horrible for everybody else won't be that bad for you.  Your ability to focus on the positive will push you past that point and have you thinking 'it wasn't that bad.' Here are the techniques that Ms. McCraken suggests that you do, and I agree with everyone of them:

[caption id="attachment_2689" align="alignleft" width="177" caption="Source: Slowtwitch.com"][/caption] Superman Booth

Clark Kent was a dorky awkward looking reporter badgered by Lois Lane until he stepped into a phone booth. Create your own imaginary phone booth where you feel extraordinary. Step inside mentally and physically. Create your safe and magical space. What colors do you see? Does it sparkle? Is there a buzz or a particular song playing in the background? What smells do you notice? What three adjectives describe how you feel inside? Define this space for yourself. Try to channel your inner child to tap into your imagination. Practice stepping into this magical space before every practice. Come race time, your phone booth will feel powerfully familiar. This is also what Chris McCormack speaks of.  Find that 'happy place' so that you can remove your mind from the race and allow you to get lost and ignore the pain.  My booth is filled with you my readers and those that I commonly tweet with.  You are my power source.  I think about the scenarios that you have gone through and how you handled them and I apply to myself.  I also have my Charlie's Angels in Karen (my wife), Claudia (my coach), and KC (my idol as I want to be a triathlete like her when I grow up.)  These ladies all have a different way of inspiring and motivating me and there is not a race or long training day that goes by that they are not there with me.

Helium Balloon

What does your inner voice say to you? Is it encouraging or does it drag you down into a mire of self-contempt? My inner voice is a skinny male elite marathon runner telling me I'm too fat to run as fast as the other girls I want to compete with. Solution? Simple. If I imagine giving that voice a hit on a helium balloon, I take away his power over me. Instead he sounds like a wimpy cartoon character who couldn't stand up to Bugs Bunny if he tried. My inner voice says to me:  You are racing side by side Chris McCormack in the Energy Lab of Kona or riding with Mirinda Carfrae in the Lava Fields of Kona.  It sucks but you will not allow yourself to quit as you are going stride for stride or pedal stroke for pedal stroke with the best in the world.  I think about how they would look at me and say: good luck mate this is going to be an epic day for both of us.  Putting myself in that situation right then and there and all the sudden the scenario I am in is no longer that hard.

[caption id="attachment_2688" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Source: Slowtwitch.com"][/caption] Stickers

Give yourself permission to be a kid again. Leave yourself visual reminders of key words that contribute to a mantra in your head. I use address labels and stick them to my bike, water bottle or body. My words are positive but have no opposite meaning so that my mind doesn't twist them against me: swift, breathe, glide. You can also leave Post-it Notes at your desk, on your mirror or by your nightstand with constant reminders of time goals or positive words you wish to use to override the negative voice before it takes that helium hit. I can say I have not done this at all, but what a fabulous idea.  The idea of having that saying on my aerobars or on my water bottle as I'm drinking from it to reinforce that positivity is awesome.  The easy words of thinkSPEED, prepared, and believe would give me that boost when the mind starts to wander over to the dark side.  I have used thinkSPEED this entire training season as I want to go sub 5:30 at 70.3 Austin and having those words on my bike, forearm and water bottle while racing will reinforce all the work I have put in to that point.

Perfect Practice

Like those tedious physical therapy exercises we neglect until our injury rears its ugly head, we forget these mental exercises until we are at the mercy of negative self-talk beating us into submission. If perfect practice leads to perfect racing, why not spend a little more time on your mental game before practice? Carve out one minute before your workout to train your mind with these techniques. You'll thank yourself come race day.  

How Do You Approach The Dark Side?

What Is Your Mental Approach To The Suck?

 
Published in Train
Tuesday, 07 June 2011 14:38

Hard Work: Nothing To Be Afraid Of

I wrote this post as a guest writer for Sisters Running The Kitchen.  They were gracious enough to post my words on what is a terrific site, and one that I turn to for inspiration and motivation in the kitchen.  Look at the header and tell me your mouth isn't drooling just a bit. In case you don't follow their blog, just click on the link above, and start following them.  I also wanted to repost the article here for you to read as well. ====================== This past weekend I raced the Capital of Texas Triathlon (CapTexTri) and completed it in 2 hours 45 minutes, which beat my previous personal best by 8 minutes.  It is an accomplishment to be happy with but my first reaction when I saw my time was:  How can I get better and the only answer was to work harder. Now there are people out there who will say that I work hard already so how much harder can I work.  Truth be told that was my second reaction as well.  I was on the verge of tears because I put everything I had into my training and my results were two minutes off of my goals and the initial results showed me in 38th out of 45 racers. I spoke to my coach and my wife and they both assured me that come race day anything can happen and I can’t compare myself to the others in my field but only to myself and see where I improved and where I need work and then put everything I had into those areas. [caption id="attachment_2502" align="alignleft" width="255" caption="Now That Is Hard Work"][/caption] It is with this mindset that I think to myself that nothing is impossible.  If you really want something you have to work for it.  Sometimes the results will come easy and sometimes it may take what seems like an eternity but if you keep working at it the results will come. An example of that is my swimming.  When I started this endurance lifestyle the thought of swimming 1.2 miles sent me packing.  The idea of swimming faster than 2 minutes 15 seconds per 100 yards in a pool was a dream.  It wasn’t until I realized that I needed to work at my swim technique in order to improve that I realized all things were possible.  I worked very hard at my swim to the point of being in the water 3 days a week. Where did all this swimming get me?  How about the ability to swim 1500 meters in 31 minutes and 40 seconds or a pace of 1 minute 55 seconds per 100 yards in the OPEN WATER.  How about the fact that I now regularly swim 4 times per week with one of the swims being an open water swim of at least 1.2 miles.  I am now looking forward to training for an Ironman event where the swim is 2.4 miles. It was with this mindset that I recently had a conversation with a gentlemen at a local running store.  I had popped in to quickly grab some goggles for my wife when he and I started talking.  After about 30 minutes of conversation I realized I had to leave. This conversation was filled with the topic of hard work and how some people work harder to not work hard than to just do the task at hand.  We discussed the prospects of losing weight and how people will come up with excuses as to why they can’t do something.  It seemed to us that it was harder to come up with the excuses than to just get out there and lose the weight. Have we become a society so enamored with instant gratification that if we have to work  even remotely hard at it we don’t want it?  Whatever happened to patience is a virtue?  Whatever happened to greatness is not achieved overnight?  Whatever happened to the idea that you get out of it what you put into it?  Have we forgotten all these messages that we were taught as children and what are we teaching our children today? I have a saying and it goes like this:

Greatness is never achieved without the WANT TO!

  By this I mean you have to want to be great and in order to be great you have to put in the work to get there.  

So are you afraid of Hard Work or do you do whatever it takes to accomplish your tasks and realize your dreams?

 
Published in Race
Friday, 17 June 2011 18:19

I'm At War.....

.....with my mind and my body on a daily basis and I love it. Yesterday morning I was reading a comment by Michael of Slowly Tri-ing on my post about tips for new triathletes.  She mentioned not getting enough rest and how her body is reacting to 430am workouts and then evening workouts as well.  She got injured and most likely due to not enough rest and trying to get it all in. It got me thinking about how we treat ourselves during these training sessions and even recovery.  We are not professional athletes so we don't have the opportunity to train in the morning then take a nap then train in the evening then take a nap then eat a meal and rest.  We are age groupers and we have to find time for it all.  There are obligations from family/friends, work, training, blogging, education, etc.  You try to piece it all together and some days are easier than others.  Some days are impossible and we can't figure out how to get it all in. For me it was becoming a war.  I was waging war on my body by doing these intense training workouts and trying to work.  I was going at lunch to get a ride in but never felt good about it because I was rushing and not focusing on form or I was running just to run.  It was what we would call junk miles.  You do them but what are they good for?  Your focus is not on your running or your cycling or swimming but on all the things outside.  Your pounding away at your body and beating up your mind because you have 1,000,000 things going on. This is when I decided to train smarter and not harder.  Now please don't read that wrong.  I am still doing intense workouts and pushing my lactate threshold.  I am going anaerobic and have even begun taking up running without fuel to teach my body to process protein and fat into energy (glucose.) My war with my mind and body has gone from trying to get it all in to just what it needs to be.  My war with my mind is about chanting mantras now and blocking out the pain and the suck.  It is about telling my mind that this is what is going on so you better learn to deal with it and change its pain threshold. My war with my body is now one of ignorance.  I ignore the fact that my legs may feel like they are not moving.  I ignore the fact that my shoulders are on fire from swimming two miles.  None of it matters because I am going to win this war against my mind and body. My war now starts at 3am every morning except for Friday which is a rest day.  Every day when that alarm goes off I get up and I brush my teeth and weigh myself.  I then have breakfast number one which is now a hot dog roll toasted with 1/2tbs of nut butter, a banana, 4oz coffee and 8oz of water.  This breakfast each and every morning gives me 250 calories with 48g carbs, 7g fiber, 8g protein and 6g fat.  After consuming this I go back to sleep for anywhere from 30 minute to an hour. In that time my body is back to rest while also processing these macronutrients to be ready to fire my muscles when it is time to train.  The other key part of this for me is that come race day I don't want that to be the first time I am waking up at 330-4a.  My body needs to know what it is like to be awake at that hour and how to be prepared to work in that state as well.  I am a big believer in training as if it is race day. The other part to waking up so early and getting these workouts in so early is that I then have 24 hours to recover.  My body is done exerting and is now ready to recover so that it is stronger for the next days training session.  I am also wide awake and ready to work.  My energy level is high and I am ready to tackle the world.  I don't stress over getting a workout 'in' because I don't view working out as a chore.  I don't want to fit it 'in.'  I want to enjoy it and I want to know that I pushed my envelope further down the table of life. Let us not forget that by training in the morning my metabolism is also on fire all day and is breaking down food constantly which allows me to eat and enjoy my food instead of thinking that I can't eat this because I might gain weight.  Don't get me wrong about this as I do concern myself with my weight but from the standpoint of racing and being at my goal weight and not about being fat or obese.  I don't concern myself with that because I am burning those calories throughout the day and turning my food into fuel for my next workout. I have waged a war against my mind and my body and I have won.  When that alarm goes off at 2:58 (psychological warfare right there to know that if I hit the 5 min snooze that I am still up at 3:03a) it is like the ringing of the bell for the next round.  Let's not be passive about life but attack life and know that at the end of the day when I begin to fall asleep (sometime around 9pm) I have done everything I can to live life and enjoy it.  No dread, no worry, no stress about working out, getting work done, picking up or taking my step-son to school.  It's all been done and done my way. Will the rules of this war change at some point?  Of course they will, and I will have to adapt but I now know that I can.  I now know that nothing is impossible.  I now know that I can beat my mind and my body into doing anything I want it to do. Life is fun and all of us need to enjoy it since we only get one chance at it.  I want to live for a long long time so that I can see the next generation and the next generation and the next generation and how the world evolves.  In order for me to to that I have to make sure I am healthy and I begin to get healthy at 3am.  

Do You Wage War Against Your Body And Mind?  Which Wins Most Often?

Why Do You Do The Things You Do?

Published in Race
This race report is by one person I consider to be a good friend even if we have only known each other for a few months.  I met Greg via Twitter a few months ago and we met up at the Stonebridge Ranch Half-Marathon.  From that day we started training together and he truly helped push me to get faster in the water.  Now that we have both completed our first half-iron distance races we are looking to help each other to the 140.6 mile marker. I always enjoy our training sessions and the conversation.  He is a leader and a true inspiration and motivator.  Read this race report and find out what it takes to finish a half-ironman and get ready to laugh a bit. Thank you Greg for letting me post this.

=============

Bruised and Battered but not Broken – Part 2

Posted on May 16, 2011 by @thelifeitri
STARTING MATTERS, BUT FINISHING COUNTS There were audible gasps as people saw my shoulder and realized I had crashed out on the course.  A couple of volunteers asked if I needed anything, but I wasn’t in the mood to explain so just gave a curt no and kept duck running to the transition area. My wife was ready to take a picture, but saw an unusual red color on my arm and quickly dropped the camera and started to follow me along the transition fence.  She asked if I was ok and I gave her the thumbs up and just yelled, “I’ll be fine.”  She knows me and the situation well enough to know that was the wrong time to probe so she just let it be.  I know she was worried, I would’ve been, but like the amazing woman she is, let me do my thing with her full support and now prayers, thoughts, and concerns. Typically T2 is a blur, but I took a moment or two extra to gather myself.  It helped that it hurt like hell to put on my shoes even with lock laces.  The fingers on my right hand had been chewed up pretty good in the wreck. Once I had put on my fuel belt and race belt (need to come up with a better system in the future) and started trotting out of transition, I knew this was not going to be the run I had intended to run.  My legs were dead, my left hip was sore, and I had a bruised/scraped area just above my hip that couldn’t hide from my fuel belt. Glancing at my watch I saw I had 1:36 and change to make my 5 hour mark.  I could do this, I could pull it together, I could run 7:15 miles for 13.1 and make it.  My mind raced around the idea, I took a deep breath, tried to pick up the pace and get a move on.   There were a couple of rabbits out ahead of me that I tried to laser in on, but everything just seemed heavy.  I slowed down to a walk for half a minute or so.  I knew that I just needed my legs to get under me.  Starting to run again felt a little better but now I needed to pee.  Finally!!!  I had been waiting and wondering when I would have to pee during this race fully expecting to have showered Gauchon a couple of times during the ride.  I had drank plenty before the race and finished between 40 and 50 oz of hydration on the ride, but nothing. Before the race I had made up my mind that no matter how “embarrassing” I was just going to pee on the run, but at this moment the port-a-potty was to close not to just step in for 30 seconds.  It was another welcome break just to get my mind and body right for the run. Coming out I grabbed a handful of sponges from a bucket nearby and began the cooling process; squeezing cold water on me then placing other sponges in the front and back of my jersey.  Every sponge offer from there on out was just a swap out of old and new.  Loved having those with me throughout the race. At mile 1 I was off pace with 8:09 minute mile thanks to my walking and bio-break.  Way off pace, but not bad with the stops.  Time to get a move-on and I did for the next two miles logging 6:48 and 7:07 min. miles bringing my average closer to where it needed to be, but that was where my speed ended.  I didn’t feel slow, but from there on out my miles were between 7:20 and 7:40. Instead of just running I was trying to pace, I was trying to calculate and it wasn’t working.  Some of the rabbits I had in my sight were long gone, others had appeared and I passed a few of them, but this was not my day to blister the run.  This was my day to put my best foot forward and push.  The 5 hour mark was still within reach, but slowly slipping away. Entering the St. Andrews National Park in between miles 5 and 6 was awesome and a welcome change of scenery from the homes and businesses we had been running through.  This was a “forested” beach front with white sand along the sides of the road.  It reminded me that we get to race in some pretty beautiful places.

St. Andrews State Park

I wanted my pace to quicken, but I my quads were burning.  With a tired, frustrated mind I confused that with lack of calories vs. water and electrolytes.  So I took another gel which was about 2 miles earlier than planned.  That would prove to be my undoing later. Coming out of the park I was reaching mile 7 and for as hard as it had been I had actually made a decent showing and had about 43 minutes left to make it in by 5 hours.  I did another calculation and knew I could run at the pace necessary to finish at or before my desired goal.  This was going to be my comeback, my “epic story”, I had wrecked but picked myself up to still hit my goal!  This wasn’t necessarily re-energizing, but I felt I could do it no matter how uncomfortable. A guy had just passed me and his pace seemed fast enough that if I just kept him within reach and with a good kick at the end I’d pull this off.  So off we went back into the businesses and homes of Panama City Beach. Passing mile marker 8 I had logged a 7:55 mile, way off pace from what I needed.  I did my best to dig deep.  I settled into an uncomfortably comfortable pace and just wanted to see mile marker 9.  There was an aid station coming up and I knew I needed some electrolytes, but didn’t want what I was carrying and decided to grab a coke instead…sugar & salt, right?  About 4 oz. and it tasted good.  I made up my mind I would grab sponges and coke the rest of the way in.  Hitting mile marker 9 I marked my time and had picked up :20 seconds. I started to tear up a little.  Four more miles holding or getting faster and I’d do it.  I was on pace and it was going to be close, but I was going to make this happen. The aid station just before mile marker 10 wasn’t paying much attention.  I yelled out for a coke, but it took to the end of the aid station for someone to finally give me something, but it was a full cup.  I took just a splash and dropped the cup to the ground.  This is when I made the worst mistake possible….I actually thought, “I need more calories so I can make a kick at 11.  Get ‘em in now, you’ll be glad you did!”  So I opened my gel and started to slowly draw a little in. I knew instantly that I was in trouble.  The gel tasted horrible and felt weird going down.  I discarded the gel as if it was a bad luck charm.  “Maybe if I don’t carry it with me it won’t have any effect on me.”  Ya, stupid!  Mile 10 came and went and my pace had slowed.  I lost :20 gain from mile 9. Somewhere between a .25 mile and .50 mile into mile 10 I felt the rumble.  I knew what the rumble “could” mean, but was hoping the gas bubble I was about to release would just be just that, gas!!! If only this were a wooded area, if only I was near a gas station, if only I saw a port-a-potty within spitting distance I might have had more confidence, but I was O-fer on all of those.  Peeing on the run was one thing.  Crapping myself was not something I was prepared to do, even to hit my time.  Maybe if a lot of money was on the line; but, it would have to be a hell of a lot of money. I clinched as tight as I could and tried to run.  That only made things worse!  Still clinching I started the old lady, heel first speed walk.  100 yards to a corner, but I was already looking for a bailout.  Whose front yard had the most shrubs?  Was someone in their driveway that I could plead with?  Literally, someone’s yard was about to get blasted. Just then I reached the corner, turned to my left and up another 50 yards was the aid station with A PORT-A-POTTY!  Now I had to figure out how I was going to make this happen.  I was wearing a cycling bib which had been great, but this might be my last race with the bibs.  I’m sure the aids were wondering what the hell I was doing. Walking up I was stripping off my jersey, taking off my fuel belt, and I’m sure I looked like death warmed over.  They asked if they could get me something.  “Nope, just need to sit down…in here,” as I was opening the door.  This time I didn’t lap my stop, wasn’t even thinking about it.  I was too busy destroying the port-a-potty.  Seriously it should have been marked condemned upon my departure. This wasn’t a welcome rest.  Not just for the GI reason, but I had stopped moving and sat down.  As I stood up my entire body tightened.  My left side became painful and my hip started to throb.  Trying to put on my jersey again was a joke, but I wasn’t about to cross the finish line in my bibs.  Fortunately a volunteer wasn’t “grossed out” by my sweaty back and helped me roll down the jersey. Grabbing sponges and a cold glass of water I tried to start again.  I didn’t even look down at my watch.  I just wanted to go.  My rabbit was gone, my 5 hour mark was approaching, and I still had around 2.5 miles.  I thought about just leaving my belt there and coming back for it.  It felt so heavy and was rubbing against a very sore hip, but I was stubborn and thought about having to drop another $50 if I didn’t get it back. Mile 11 I looked at my watch and saw 4:53:00.  It almost broke me.  5 hours was gone, not a chance, even with a “fresh” body at this point I couldn’t make that happen.  Never did it occur to me to just mail it in and not care how I finished.  My mantra is “Starting matters, but FINISHING counts.”  It was never so apparent and true as now.  Time for a new goal!  It became 5:10:00. That seemed more than possible in my head.  Only 8:30 miles; but, my body just wouldn’t listen.  I pushed and tried, but my legs would not pick up, my hips would not roll.  I was as limber as a petrified tree and as heavy footed as the tin man. Reaching mile 12 I was now at 5:04 after an 11:20 mile.  5:10:00 was now out of reach, but If I didn’t go for it I wouldn’t even make 5:15.  Last effort, last mile, time to finish!  Still petrified and heavy as ever I did all I could to go as fast as possible.  This was now about finishing and giving my body and mind the rest it thought it was getting back at mile 10. The final straight away was tough.  I knew I was accomplishing a great thing that I had trained and prepared for, but anger and disappointment were settling in.  This wasn’t how I had envisioned this moment or my body feeling.  When I got close enough to the finish line I started to pay attention to the clock praying I had kept accurate time and that my watch was in sync because I was tracking under the 5:15 goal I had set at mile 12.  But the clock said 5:43

Dazed and confused coming to the finish

as I was approaching.  I couldn’t believe it, how could I be so far off, I wasn’t even close to my original goal like I had thought.  Dazed and confused I crossed the line staring down at my watch, wondering how this was possible, my watch at 5:13:44 but the time at 5:43. As they took the chip off of me and started to walk me away from the line pointing out the medical tent it started to make sense.  The timing had started a half hour before my start time.  Indeed I had finished in the time my watch was showing.  I had finished as strong as possible.  I had made the best of the hand that the race had dealt me.  I had just finished an amazing race that I could hang my hat on for future races.  Unfortunately I wouldn’t realize this for another week.

Finished!

One week and a couple of days removed I am very happy with my race overall.  I am still going to grade each discipline and write about the lessons learned, but I endured, I pushed, and I literally left it all on the road that day.  Couldn’t have made that finish count any better than I did!  Now, it’s time to get ready for The Redman Triathlon – Ironman in September.  Here we go…

Only possible because of Angel!

 
Published in Race Reports
Friday, 03 June 2011 13:38

Why You Should Do A Triathlon.....

Yesterday at the office a statement about triathlon was made that led me to chuckle.  The statement was:  Training for a triathlon is good for you, but racing one is not.  This was a repeated statement from somebody not in the office and so I could not get a real reason as to why somebody would say this.  The best I could think was the rise in heart rate that one experiences during the race.  My only thought was isn't every sport the same way?  You get a heart rate that is elevated higher than what you experience during practice/training? So being the super sleuth that I am I went and used Google to search for the health benefits to doing a triathlon.  I came across an article from 2005 in Men's Health that was taken from the book Triathlon Training by Eric Harr.  You can see the entire article [HERE] but I pulled down the 20 reasons and left their comments but also added my own. Physical Benefits For you to consider training for and completing a triathlon, there have to be some serious, long-lasting benefits, right? Well, here they are -- 20 of them. Let's start with the most observable payoffs: what will happen to your body. You Will Lose Weight The first thing you'll probably notice as a Triathlete-in-Training is that your clothes will become too big. That's because training for such a three-sport event will make you as fit and healthy as you have ever been in your life. When you engage in a well-balanced program of swimming, cycling and running--known as cross-training -- you will burn an enormous amount of fat from every area of your body. Better yet, the weight will come off as a natural consequence of your passion-driven quest to complete a triathlon, rather than from a guilt-induced diet, a boring exercise plan or a bizarre fitness implement. Plus, you'll likely find that when you're training for such an athletic event, you'll want to eat a healthy, well-balanced diet that supports your training. Overeating or indulging in lots of less-than-nutritious foods will leave you feeling dull and tired during your workouts, so you'll quickly learn to eat what's good for you -- and that will accelerate your weight loss even more. I believe that you MAY lose weight and don't think it is a guarantee that you will.  Yes you will want to eat healthier so that you can perform better but eating healthier doesn't always mean that you are eating less calories than you are burning.  If you are consuming food by the truckload even if it is vegetables you will not lose weight because of the simple math of calories in minus calories out.  You have to watch how much as well as what. You Will Look and Feel Years Younger When we neglect our bodies, imperceptibly over time we gradually accept lower standards of fitness, of health -- and therefore of living. Worse, we don't even realize how bad we feel, until we wake up and get fit again. Training for a triathlon will reconnect you with your body and make you feel like you haven't felt in years: young, energetic and powerful. And you'll not only feel years younger but you'll look better than ever, too. Triathletes are legendary for having some of the best physiques in the fitness world. That is because cross-training shapes the body in complementary ways: running develops long, lean muscles; cycling builds strength and tones your lower body; and swimming increases your flexibility and sculpts your upper body. Take a look at any triathlete over age 55 and you'll see what I mean. These people have the look -- and swagger -- of 20- and 30-somethings. I agree with this notion that you will look and feel years younger.  As a person who will turn 38 this year I have been asked for ID more often than I was when I was much younger.  I also feel younger not just in my body but in my mind.  As a kid we thought we could do anything and I feel that way again today.  My life has no more limits. You Will Have More Energy Energy forms the basis of our existence, yet it seems that we all have less and less of it as our schedules have grown increasingly hectic. Unfortunately for some people, exercise can exacerbate this problem by draining their energy rather than replenishing it. In an effort to get results or lose weight fast, they may wind up overtraining and exhausting themselves. To me there is no doubt about this.  I have far more energy today than I have ever had.  I played all kinds of sports as a kid and could be seen running from playing field to playing field.  That is how I feel today.  Are there days where getting out of bed is more difficult than others?  Absolutely, but I also know that once I get up the motor revs up and hits 100 mph and I am off and running (or swimming or cycling) and don't lose that high until the end of the day (9pm usually!) You Will Get More Out of Your Workouts In this book, I show you how to exercise more efficiently by using a few simple strategies, such as monitoring your heart rate and breathing properly. Follow these and other techniques set forth in the training program, and you'll get fast results from your workouts -- without expending a huge amount of effort. It's all about training smart, not hard. Heart rate training has been a huge benefit for me.  My workout do not include junk miles at all.  I know that each workout has a purpose and some of them are to increase speed and others endurance.  There is not enough time in the day or life to waste time and miles so I make the most out of them. You Will Injury-Proof Your Body When you stick with one sport like running, for example, you continually stress the same parts of your body -- and that can result in overuse injuries such as shinsplints, stress fractures, knee problems and tendinitis. Training for a triathlon, however, incorporates three very different sports. This cross-training, as it is called, isn't as hard on the body, because it distributes the stress more evenly to your bones and muscles and develops more balanced fitness. That means less pain, fewer injuries, and a stronger body. Or as Donna Carlysle, a mother of three from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, put it: "I like training for the triathlon because of the variety -- it strengthens every muscle in my body, and it keeps me fresher as opposed to getting all the aches when I'm just running or biking or lifting weights all the time." There is no doubt that cross-training helps relieve the stress on body parts because you are not always pounding those areas but you still have to be careful with your body.  You have to stretch and listen to your body otherwise injury will happen. You Will Improve Your Health According to the American College of Sports Medicine, regular exercise can lower your blood pressure, prevent diabetes, heart disease and certain cancers, and reduce your risk of osteoporosis and depression -- just to name a few. Follow the training program in this book, and you'll spend less time at doctors' offices and more time enjoying your life! I think this is a no brainer.  I have more energy to run around and do family things.  I don't ever visit the doctor.  We have gone over my feelings about doctors ad nausea on this blog. You Will Live Longer By preventing disease and fortifying your body, regular exercise can help you live a longer, more productive life. Training for something as complete as a triathlon lays a foundation of fitness that will ensure that your later years are more pain-free and fun filled -- so you'll not only add years to your life but you'll also add life to your years. I  guess scientifically based on the fact that your body is in great shape, you are not overweight, etc you will live longer but in the grand scheme of life nothing is guaranteed.  I can say that you will feel like you have lived longer because you are doing more and experiencing more.  You are traveling to races and traveling for training.  You get to meet great people and experience life.   Mental Benefits Although the physical payoffs of doing a triathlon are thrilling, the mental rewards you stand to reap are even greater -- because they are trulytimeless. The mental edge you'll develop by becoming a triathlete will never fade.   You Will Be More Productive Training for a triathlon will clear your mind and sharpen your focus. My most lucid and creative thoughts invariably arise during bike rides, after swims or while running with my dog Owen around the lakes of Mount Tamalpais in northern California first thing in the morning. Not only will you have these "lightbulb" moments during exercise, you'll also return to your day feeling refreshed and ready to tackle the tasks that lie ahead of you. Essentially, as your body becomes stronger, your mind will follow. For me when I am out training I am my most creative.  My only issue is getting those solutions to paper and I have yet to invent the device that will allow me to record my thoughts while I am out training.  I will also so that even when I am not training I feel more creative than before I started training for marathons and triathlons. You Will Learn to Handle Stress More Effectively You will learn the profound skill of developing grace under pressure -- that is, increasing your composure as the pressure around you heightens -- as well as how to apply that skill to any stressful situation. If you can learn to "relax into" more intense physical efforts during a 45-minute run, for example, you will be more able to maintain mental equanimity during your morning commute. One of the most rewarding outcomes of my triathlon career is that few things in my daily life unsettle me. I am now more mentally resilient. You will be, too. Life throws you curveballs all the time.  I have learned how to handle stress better than ever and this has not only helped me in life but also in triathlon.  We learn to control ourselves in a transition that doesn't go right or how running across a sand transition and up a hill no longer means anything.  It just means that it has to get done. You Will Build Rock-Solid Self-Confidence To develop a strong, "in-your-bones" confidence, I believe you must achieve something that deeply challenges you. Training for and finishing a triathlon is certainly a remarkable achievement and a powerful way to build self-confidence that will last a lifetime. This was never an issue for me, ask my wife, but there is no doubt that the word limit no longer exists.  I think I can do anything anytime I want.  Is this realistic?  No, but it also means I am not afraid to try.  BDD sent a link about the Leadman 250 I believe and I immediately said I want to do this, what do I need to do to get in?  I told my coach yesterday that my goal is IMTX in May and IMAZ in November and not to forget that I am qualifying for Boston this December so we need to address training properly.  Oh, let's not forget that I have my eyes on 70.3 Longhorn in October and already registered for 70.3 Puerto Rico in March.  I will rest when they bury me. Your Mood Will Improve Research shows that exercise improves your mood and lifts your spirits. And no wonder! When you put your body in motion, you can't help but feel alive and invigorated. They don't call it "runner's high" for nothing. Plus, training for a triathlon gets you outdoors, and spending time in the beauty of nature is bound to boost your mood! Ask Lesley at Racing it Off about my mood.  It is one that is always smiling.  I can't understand being grumpy.  Yes it happens to me and may last a few hours but then I remember to just smile.  Smiling makes everything better.  If I am grumpy I make sure to say Hello to somebody or smile at them.  They will inevitably smile or say hello back and my mood immediately lifts.  Smile today! Your Motivation to Exercise Will Soar Studies on exercise adherence show that many people quit their exercise routines because they become bored or burned out. This can happen when you do the same thing day in and day out. Incorporating three different sports into your weekly exercise plan helps you to avoid burnout. When you grow tired of swimming along that godforsaken black line in your local pool, you can go for a run, a hike or a bike ride around town or through the countryside. After all, each of these activities directly contributes to your triathlon success. If I don't workout I feel sluggish, even on rest days when I know that I should not be training and that my body needs rest I feel sluggish.  I will say that my coach gave the best line when she said:  I have never regretted a workout when I was done.  If it takes a few extra minutes to get up in the morning I think of this line and I get going.  I will also say that having you (my peers) know about my training and racing leads to motivation as well.  While I do these things for myself I also feel like I owe you all something to always give it my best.  We lead by example, but I am also following you which helps me. You Will Learn to Strengthen Your Weaknesses As we age, we begin erecting physical and psychological walls, brick by brick, made of our fears, doubts and excuses. And we do it without realizing it. This wall begins to widen the distance between ourselves and our human potential. Before we know it, we're nowhere close to the person we once were -- or to the person we wanted to become. That can be a very scary realization later in life. Swimming.  Do I need to say more?  I hated swimming.  Walked the last 50 yards in the pool of my first triathlon and now I can swim 1500 meters in the open water in 31 minutes.  I can swim 1.2 miles in the open water in 34 minutes.  I love swimming now and would say that it is my 2nd best discipline behind running and ahead of cycling.   Social Benefits Whether you train for your triathlon alone or with others, you're sure to meet fellow triathletes along the way. You'll find that the camaraderie within the triathlon world is unmatched in any other sport. In addition to making new fitness friends, you stand to reap other social rewards as well. You Get to Rub Shoulders with the Best Athletes in the World In a triathlon everyone completes the same course: mother of three, 56-year-old age-group competitor, world-champion professional. That's one of the truly unique things about this sport. Can you imagine golfing alongside Tiger Woods? No way. But you can compete in the same triathlon as World Champion Ironman Tim Deboom. You may not be immediately impressed with that, but when a pro like Tim Deboom gives you a thumbs-up or a pat on the back as he goes by, you'll get chills. This is one of the reasons that I love triathlon.  I exchanged emails with Charisa Wernick last week after she posted on her blog about swimming.  Could I do that with a member of the New York Giants?  I doubt it.  This sport allows me to learn from the pros and feel closer to the pros as well as elite age groupers (like my coach) because we are experiencing the same highs and lows.  There is a camraderie. You Will Join the Fitness Elite If you complete just one triathlon, you will become one of the fitness elite no matter what your finishing time. You will have accomplished something that only one percent of the population even dare try. That puts you in more of an elite class than a Hollywood star. Now that's sure to impress your friends and coworkers, not to mention anyone you're meeting for the first time. I believe this whole-heartedly.  To me there is no other sport in the world that combines disciplines the way triathlon does and no matter what your finishing time to be able to do all three sports consecutively on the same day is incredible and you have to be in shape to do it. Inspirational Benefits Perhaps the most profound benefits of all to training for a triathlon are those you least expect. Setting out on this mission will not only shrink your waistline and give you more confidence, it will transform your life in ways you never imagined. I have had more people ask me to help them with their eating and exercise routine in the past year than in the previous 36 years of my life.  I believe I am an inspiration but only because I don't take no for an answer and I don't believe I have limits.  I think that shows other people that anything can be done if you put your mind to it and WORK HARD at it.  You have to be willing to sacrifice. You Will Have an Increased Sense of Purpose in Your Life There are times in our lives when we find ourselves unfulfilled on deep, intangible levels -- and we cannot explain why. We may have everything we want: a fulfilling career, a wonderful family, a strong network of loving friends. We just can't put our finger on our underlying restlessness. Focusing your attention on an exciting, positive and challenging goal such as a triathlon can breathe renewed purpose into your life and channel away some of that restlessness. The triathlon is a noble pursuit and an outside-the-box undertaking, and because of that people tend to wake up each morning feeling that they are on a mission. I do have an increased purpose in life and that is to be better today than I was yesterday regardless of the situation.  I want to be a better husband, a better step-father, a better employee, a better co-worker, a better triathlete.  Sometimes to my own demise though.  I push myself harder than anybody ever will.  I am self motivated and when something falls short I am also my own worst critique.  The beauty of this is that I will then push myself to be better.  I believe that I will race my next Olympic Distance triathlon and be in the 2:30 to 2:40 range.  I know I can do it and I have the work ethic to get there.  This will also show my step-son that you don't settle. You Will Become the Best You That You Can Be Are you tired of others telling you (or implying!) that you shouldn't, you can't or you won't? Daily life rarely, if ever, provides us with the opportunity to be truly courageous, to show the world what we're really made of -- and to be recognized for our own greatness. Completing a triathlon will provide you, and those around you, with physical proof that you are capable of more than anyone realizes. In this quest, pushing past what you thought was possible might be your barometer of success. For others, it might be setting a personal record. Regardless of your goals, you will glimpse your true potential by completing a triathlon. The word can't doesn't exist in my vocabulary anymore.  Anything is possible. I am going back to BDD on this but he corrected a spin instructors words so showcase CAN'T because it motivated him to push himself.  I couldn't agree more with him on this.  Tell me I can't and I will prove to you that I can.  Tell me no way, and I will show you that there is a possibility and then actually do it. You Will Be a Hero to Your Kids If your children watch you finish a triathlon, they may never look at you the same way. How do I know? My mom was a triathlete back in the formative years of the sport -- the early 1980s. At that time, people knew very little about how to train for the triathlon; trailblazers like my mom were making it up as they went along. My step-son eats vegetables.  ALL of his vegetables and asks for more.  Why?  Because he want to have muscles as big as mine.  Because he wants to run fast and run in races with my wife and I.  If that doesn't motivate you to get up in the morning than nothing will.   You Will Motivate and Inspire Those around You The courage and determination you show in pursuing a triathlon may inspire those around you to elevate their fitness and their lives--or at the very least, your quest will spark in others the possibility that they can do more. ("Hey, if this bozo can do it, surely I can!") Bringing people to that realization is a wonderful gift. Knowing that you have set an example for someone to go after their dreams or to make a positive change in their life is a reward that simply cannot be matched. No doubt about this.  My sister-in-law is training for the half-marathon in Las Vegas this year and has now started a club at her job.  She recruited 20 woman who are all participating in hiking and running.  It is a driving force and when I know I have motivated one person to get better it motivates me to seek out more people to get better. You Will Set Other Positive Things in Motion -- Things You Never Imagined I know from personal experience that training for a triathlon event can totally transform your life. In 1994, when I decided to train for my first triathlon in the U.S. Virgin Islands, the extent of my exercise was walking to the local mango stand for lunch. It took courage to register for the race, but taking that one simple step set dozens of other unforeseen, positive steps into motion. I began eating better, I had more energy and I grew more sensitized to the joys of everyday life. I was a much more passionate and giving person because I felt so good about myself. That meant I could begin giving to others more. It may sound trite, but I began racing on behalf of animal welfare -- something I likely would never have done if I hadn't pursued the triathlon. The moment you finish a triathlon, you will be astounded at the new realm of possibilities that open up to you. The only obstacles barring your way are your self-imposed excuses, fears and doubts. Overcoming them, and moving past them to where your real power dwells, is what the next chapter is about. Things I never Imagined?  How about competing in a 70.3 at all. Now I am talking about 2 this year.  How about 2 140.6 races and 2 70.3 races plus a marathon as well next year?  No I never imagined these things and now I can not imagine not doing them.   I could go on and on about the reasons to do a triathlon but I think this article summed it up pretty well.  Now stop reading this and get out there and do something.  

Why Do You Do Triathlon?  Why Aren't You Doing A Triathlon?

       
Published in Race
Wondering what the title is all about?  Worry no more. On Sunday, May 1st I was watching Karen race a 1/2 Marathon.  It was cold, windy and raining.  I thought about what Karen, and for that matter all endurance athletes have put themselves through.  I am talking about the process of getting to the starting line.  As you know I believe the race is the reward for the hard work that has been done for days, weeks, months prior to the event. In that process you have had to endure quite a bit or have you?  I am asking if you always push your envelope or if you pull back.  I am asking if you find that next gear or do you put it into cruise control.  I am asking if you question yourself about what it is you are about to do or you just accept it. I am asking these questions because I find myself always looking for the next gear.  I always ask myself if I have what it takes to not just reach my goal but to surpass it.  Why do I do this?  I do this because self-improvement is my number one goal.  Not just in athletics, but in life.  I want to be a better husband, step-father, employee, co-worker and athlete.  I honestly don't know what my limitations are because I am always pushing my envelope. Sometimes this is to my detriment at that moment but I believe it gives me something to fall back on when that moment in any race shows up. You know that moment. The moment when you don't think you can go any further. At that point the work you put in pays off. If you haven't pushed yourself then you have nothing to fall back on, but if you have you know you have what it takes. Maybe you don't set a PR, or go longer but you know deep inside you have it. You've got what it takes to keep going where others will quit. THOSE WHO CAN'T QUIT. THOSE WHO CAN DO. A spark. A light bulb. A bead of sweat. Getting passed. All of these things provide the push I need to keep going when the impossible seems like it could happen. I remember that bead of sweat in the gym during bench press. I remember that pink KT taped leg and blue hat wearing woman at the White Rock marathon almost quitting 5x then crushing me on the final stretch. I remember that my spark into triathlon was caused by a simple Facebook message. I remember these items and situations because they give me something to fall back on. This weekend I added another moment. I had just run a 10k in 47:22 and then rode Windhaven for 2.5 hours and averaged almost 17 mph on the hilliest area of where I live. It was now time to run for 40 minutes. My goal in those 40 minutes? To run 5.5 miles maybe 6. I was going for broke. I wound up running 4.1 and running is an exaggeration. My legs were heavy. It was almost 90 degrees. It was humid. I had all the elements against me not to mention I was running where I just finished cycling. Tons of hill climbing and quad burning action. I ran out of water, but I finished. I thought to myself.....'That is how champions are made'. There is nothing in training that is going to be as hard as that was. In the next training session when I don't think I can go another step I will be reminded of that moment and be able to accomplish anything. Do you have something to fall back on? do you find the path of least resistance day in and day out OR do you challenge yourself?
Published in Race
Monday, 18 April 2011 19:02

Refocused and Dialing It In

Recovery is officially over and my goals have been set.  Today marked the first day of training for the remainder of this season.  As you read in my goals post I am looking to go sub 2:53 for the Olympic distance triathlon, sub 5:42 for the Half-Ironman Triathlon and to qualify for Boston in the marathon. I am focusing on Austin 70.3 which means that I have approximately 5 months before the race.  When I went into training for California I had no base and I trained for almost a year.  That year of training was tough but so much fun at the same time.  I learned a lot about myself as a person as well as an athlete.  I made changes to my diet (became a vegetarian), changes to strength training and fitness.  I learned how to go to the bathroom on the bike as well as on the run. I pushed myself to earn a pukie award.  I discovered this world of Angels and Ninjas that helped me along the way. So what is in store for me now?  Will I have the go get 'em attitude from the first training cycle?  Will I feel burnt out as we near October?  Will I get bored with my training?  What will be new this time around? I don't know the answers to these questions and that is why I am excited about this training cycle.  I go into it with open arms ready to embrace anything and everything that Coach C is going to throw my way.  I know that I can push myself harder so that I get faster.  I know that what I did previously got me to 5:42 so I need to be better than that this time around so I go faster than 5:42 (you are going to see that number a lot between today and October 23.)  That 5:42 has become the first thing that I see in the morning.  It is burned into my mind's eye and will not go away until I see 5:41 or better. I have learned a lot of lessons from the race and will be applying that to my training.  The first 2 hour ride was this weekend and I almost earned another pukie because I was determined to take in more liquid hydration than I normally have.  I consumed about 36oz of accelerade and water in those two hours and it made my stomach feel so full and sloshy that it almost came up.  I held it down and was happy to know that I can consume that amount of liquid.  I wound up riding 33.71 miles in 1:55:47 for an average speed of 17.46mph.  I rode the California course in 18.0mph on Zipp 404's.  I have since returned those wheels to my friend Juan and rode on the stock wheels.  To maintain a speed 0.5 mph slower than California on inferior wheels made me happy.  I really pushed hard and kept saying to myself:  5:42; 5:42.  There is no choice. Today I got in the water and it hurt.  I did a strength set prior to the swim and I could feel it in the water, but I think two weeks away from swimming took its toll.  It was like swimming in molasses and at one point I thought about giving up.  I was tired and sore and that is when 5:42 popped into my head.  I finished off my set and spoke to Greg about it.  Told him how much I felt like I was swimming so slow and how much it hurt.  His response was so encouraging in that he told me that no matter the shape you are in when you take two weeks off from swimming you will pay that first time.  I think I will pay the 2nd time as well but there is no give up in me.  I have the WANT TO.  Don't know what the WANT TO is.  Well, let's just say that greatness was never achieved without the WANT TO. This afternoon I will ride El Diablo (cleaned) for one hour and 30 minutes with Greg and love every minute of it.  We are going to attack some very large hills and I will smash my legs but I am going to be refocused and dialed in.  This training cycle will be different from the last one as I am now a half-ironman and I am honing my skills.  I am developing a better base for SPEED.  I am developing a better base for ENDURANCE.  I am developing, and will never stop.  

The motto for the rest of 2011 is now THINK SPEED to BEAT 5:42

 
Published in Train
This may be the best race report I ever write because it will be from the perspective of a volunteer and not that of the athlete going over the course, hydration/nutrition, PRs, etc. It was an epic weekend and let me say that if you have the chance to attend an Ironman race GO.  If you have the opportunity to volunteer DO IT.  It is like nothing you have ever seen, heard or felt before. Friday [caption id="attachment_2273" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Transition Area at Ironman Texas"][/caption] My Ironman Texas weekend began with a late wake up.  I was intending on getting up at 3am and having breakfast and then the trainer for 3 hours with a 30 minute run.  I hit snooze and got out of bed at 545a and decided to go for a run instead.  My legs felt like lead but I got in a 40 minute run and then started packing my bag.  It was actually kind of nice to not have to calculate calories, bars, electrolytes, etc but I did calculate my traveling food for the 4+ hour ride.  I packed fruit and a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. The drive was uneventful and I got into The Woodlands around 1pm.  I went straight to Juan's hotel (well not stright.)  I actually went to the wrong Residence Inn and was banging on Rm 114 and yelling to wake-up.  I texted Juan and he told me he was there and I quickly realized I was at the WRONG Residence Inn. Over to the right one and picked up Juan to go to the bike-drop off.  While in the room we went over all his gear, hydration, nutrition and plan for the next day. The expo is small and really lacks anything as WTC wants to keep only WTC licensed vendors in there so the expo here looked just like he expo in California.  While walking from transition to the expo I ran into Coach and we chatted and she had the look of a killer and somebody ready to beat the course into submission.  We then ran into Shannon and made plans to have dinner with her and her family/friends at 4pm. From there I went and met The Carrot.  It was like seeing an old high school friend you had not seen in years.  We know each others stories and have chatted via blogs, Twitter and email that there was no awkward how are you doing moment.  We just started chatting and of course it went right to nutrition/hydration, gear and everything else tri-related. At one point I asked he and Annie about an alarm being on at the house and they said no but that the code was......  Then Annie made the funniest comment of the day right there.  She says....so I just gave my alarm code to my house to a stranger from the internet.  And I chimed in not only that but he is from New York too.....good times. [caption id="attachment_2278" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Pro Bike that never started race"][/caption] Dinner with Shannon and her family was great.  We laughed and I ate as if I were racing.  Juan and I split pizza and pasta and ate it all.  After dinner we went back to the hotel, checked everything out again and I headed to Jeff's house, where I was greeted by Ernie and Bailey and it was like being home with Ginga.  The pugs are great company. Saturday I woke up at 3:30am and had a bowl of cereal and some toast (Yes, I brought my own food and even shopped before I got to Jeff and Annie's house.)  I checked directions and made sure I had everything and out the door I was around 4:45am. Picked up Juan at 5:15a and dropped him off at transition then headed back to the hotel to take a nap.  I set my alarm for 7:45a so that I could be at the swim by 8am.  I got to the swim area right at that time but never saw any of the people I was there to see exit the water.  I walked around and that is when I saw another friend from here in Dallas who was also volunteering. We talked for a while and hung out at the mount line for the bike.  After the last athletes went out it was now time to find bike handlers.  I walked for almost an hour and covered at least 3 miles.  Finally at 10:30a the sign for the group went up and I checked in.  We were given instruction and at 11:30a it was go time. We line up and the racers either hand you the bike or throw it at you.  Either way you have thousands of dollars in your hand.  By my calculations there were ~20 bike handlers with ~2500 bikes.  Figure we each handled 125 bikes (although go getters like me probably handled more.  I was loving it so I was running the bikes back to the rack and then running back to get more bikes.)  125 bikes at $3000 per bike means I handled ~$375,000 in my time there. It was phenomenal to be in T2.  Some of the sights and sounds: [caption id="attachment_2277" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Last male swimmer out of water who missed cut-off time by 20 minutes"][/caption] Female Athlete Says:  Thank you for taking my bike.  Please get rid of it.  As a matter of fact put it on eBay right now. Male Athlete Says: Whoa.  What are you doing with my bike.  No. No.  Oh, ok.  Thank you so much. Female Athlete Says:  Man that was hard (tears welling up in her eyes.) Male Athlete Says:  Woooo!!!!!  Wooooo!!!!!!  Let's get this done. So many stories to be told from T2 but I will always remember speaking spanish to the Mexican athletes to take their helmets and shoes.  I will always remember the British woman, who as she handed me her bike, helmet, gloves, shoes, camelbak say Cheers after each handoff.  I will always remember the faces and the thank yous and the 'I am doing this' look on their face. But the best memories will be:
  • High Fiving Coach C as she ran out of T2 and looked determined and strong.
  • Grabbing Juan's shoes and helmet as he ran out of transition and cheering him on.  He told me about his drafting penalty but had a huge smile on his face.
  • Seeing Jeff as he handed his bike off to another handler while also hearing Annie cheering loudly like a proud wife.  I gave Jeff some encouragement and off he went.  He had a huge smile as he took off.
  • Running up to grab Shannon's bike and basically barrelling people out of the way so that I could handle her bike.  I took her helmet and shoes and gave her a big hug.  I was so happy for her as she was in great spirits and ready to run.
  After our shift I began to head out to the finish line where I ran into Rob, who is the husband of Coach C.  He told me she was in 3rd place but struggling and that was a total surprise to me since she looked great in T2.  He told me she was dehydrating and threw up a few times.  My heart sank for her as I knew she poured everything into this race to qualify for Kona.  As I walked with Rob I heard my name yelled out and it was Shannon.  She was smiling and looking great.  I then ran into Shannon's parents and spoke with them for a bit and lost Rob.  Off to the finish line I went. [caption id="attachment_2276" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Last female swimmer who missed cuf-off time by 15 minutes"][/caption] At this point I was calculating times for Jeff and Juan.  I found a great spot at the end of the finish chute and just hung out there.  Before I knew it I saw Coach.  She was in a wheelchair and I was stunned but being who she is she high-fived me and pulled me in for a hug.  I think she needed the comfort of a familiar face.  I gave her a kiss on the cheek and told her:  You Are A Rockstar Superhero.  I held back tears until she pointed at her watch and told me I raced to an 11:06.  She was excited but then told me they were taking her to the medical tent for IV b/c she could not hold anything down.  I was so proud of her and proud that I was an athlete of hers. Now my head was on a swivel.  Looking for the last run down the chute and the finish line so I would not miss anybody.  I kept calculating and calculating in my head.  I saw Shannon again and again she was looking strong. Seeing the athletes stream out of the finish line with smiles and tears was incredible.  Family members running up for hugs and almost knocking the athletes over.  Athletes telling them not to hug them out of comfort (most listened) or for sweat (no family member cared.)  I was getting inspired and then Juan ran by and I yelled like a school girl at a Jonas Brothers concert.  Juan came through and our friends who drove down that morning and his sister were there all smiles. Afte dropping Juan off at the hotel I ran back to see Shannon finish.  At this point it was dark out and the runners were performing on fumes.  They had been on their feet for 13-14 hours at this point.  The beauty was that there was no quit in them.  They kept moving forward and I developed a chill even though it was 90+ degrees out along with 100,000,000% humidity out. [caption id="attachment_2274" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Blind Athlete's at mount line to prepare to ride 112 miles."][/caption] I exchanged texts with Lesley of Racing it Off and my wife along with BDD.  They kept telling me where Shannon was and her pace.  Sure enough she came around the corner.  I ran with her for about 20 feet and wished her well and told her she was doing great.  I then ran to the finish line and waited. She came across the finish line and her Mom and Dad were right there and gave her great big hugs.  I hugged her and then walked her to the athlete lounge.  I ran to Juan's room after that and he and I split some pizza and a beer.  Finally at around 11p I left and headed to Jeff's. It was an absolutely epic weekend and as Kevin of Ironman By Thirty pointed out....it is better than the Super Bowl.  I couldn't agree more.  I am ready to put my body and mind into a 140.6 race and training for it will be long and hard.  The difference between myself and a majority of the athletes and today's race is that I know what the reward will be because I saw it first hand this weekend.   [caption id="attachment_2279" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Athletes finishing up after racing for 13 to 14 hours."][/caption] Sunday I woke up early and packed up my things and headed out the door.  The entire time I kept trying to figure out if Coach could make Kona.  Was there the possibility that being in 5th place could net her a slot.  I just did not think it would happen and my heart sunk for her.  I know the work she put it and I know she was ready for this.  She will tell you that if she did not get the slot it was only because it wasn't her time.  She is gracious that way. About half-way into the drive I got a text from one of the athletes on our team and it read 'She Made Kona'  and I yelled.  I also did something you shouldn't do and that was text back 'F*CK YEAH' and fist-pumped.  She did it.  She fought her way to the finish line and qualified for Kona.  True inspiration and motivation.

Have you ever volunteered at a race event?  What was you experience?  Will you do it again?

Published in Race Reports
Monday, 25 April 2011 01:48

Never Quit.....

Never Quit No Matter How Hard

This weekend Karen and I took a train-cation.  For those of you who do not know, that is a trip away from home where you go to train.  Boxers go on train-cations all the time as they prepare for their next bout. While we were away I tackled the largest climb I have ever faced, even larger than California I believe.  It was part of a 2 hour 13 minute ride I was on and the entire time I kept thinking that I could stop now and who would know.  The answer was:  I will.  Those that read the posts on this site are not the ones that are going to deal with the sheer guilt of having quit.  They are not the ones who are going to deal with the fight I am undergoing in the middle of a 70.3 race when my legs will feel like taking another step may result in them just falling off.  They are not the ones who will come home to answer Karen’s question of ‘How was the ride?’ I was the one who was going to face those scenarios and with that in mind I plugged away and with every turn of the crank I got further and further up the climbs and little did I know I got closer and closer to cycling heaven.  Had I quit and turned around at this point, nobody would have blamed me, but I also would have missed the pure enjoyment of open road-no traffic riding. It was about 10 minutes after this climb that I hit a flat section that was clear and fast.  I was able to turn my legs using the big ring.  I smiled wide and yelled ‘Whoooo!!!!!  This is what all that pain and suffering was for’  I just kept on going and at one point forgot that Karen asked me to be back in 2 hours.  I was just enjoying myself and thinking of how difficult that climb was.  How my quads were burning.  How I was basically pulling that bike up the hill.  How all those people in the cars going by me were thinking ‘Fool!’ But in the end I did it.  I conquered and did not quit. Later that night I went on a lactate threshold run.  My goal was to put in 3.85-4.05 miles in 30 minutes.  That would have been pushing it especially after a  long day and also the 2 hour ride.  In the first 0.5 miles my lungs were burning and I was dripping sweat.  It was 90+ degrees out, humid and thick like pea soup with wind and hills. Again, the idea that I could slow my pace down and enjoy a 30 minute run wandered into my head but I thought about reaching my goals.  I thought about the #THINKSPEED project.  I thought about how my legs were barely responding during the half-marathon portion of California.  How I told my coach I wanted to get faster on the run off the bike. I pushed and I huffed and I plugged along.  I got to so many points where the bile would enter my throat but I forced it back down.  I was not going to have any excuses for not hitting my goals.  I was not going to quit on myself. When the finish line showed up on the horizon I pushed and pushed.  I knew I was close but I wasn’t sure how close I was to my goal distance.  Once I hit the car I stopped my watch, looked down and then jumped up and down as if I had just won Kona. I ran 3.972 miles in 30 minutes.  I was fired up.  I was excited.  I was ready to do anything and all because I did not quit.  All because I fought the demon excuses in my head. And a funny thing happened as I walked into our room.  I forgot all about how difficult the start of the run was. My point in this post is that quitting is easy.  Quitting seems like a good answer at the time but then the guilt sets in that you quit.  The rationale that you had for quitting becomes irrational after you have quit. You all entered the endurance sports world with some sort of goal and you did not stop until you got there or are still working your way there but at no point did the word 'quit' enter into why you were doing your first endurance event.  You went into it to lose weight, to make friends, to prove that you could do it.  It was not to quit but to succeed. Even when it seems like what you are doing is impossible, just remember that within moments you will think to yourself that wasn’t so bad and I can go further, I can go faster, I can be better. Quitting is an excuse to give up on your dreams.  Would the kid in you be happy that you quit on your dreams?  I would think not so why quit?  Why let that 4 letter word enter your vocabulary?

 
Published in Race
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