Tuesday, January 20, 2015


Yes, I'm still blogging and I didn't wait many months to post my next thing. :)

So, I was forwarded an article about the size and shape of athletes and sometimes the unrealistic expectations that we have, for ourselves, about what we have to look like to be called an "athlete". I know I've posted on this way back in the past, but it's still a mental issue for me that floats around in the back of my brain and I know I'm not alone.

When I pick up my electronic copy of Triathlete Magazine or Runner's World (and I'm not picking on them to be negative, they just happen to be two magazines that I read that I notice this), the athletes on the cover and in all of the articles are either professionals who have the traditional "athletic" image of single digit body fat percentage and very lean or they are age groupers who are also of that traditional "athletic" image. I do not fault these people for the way they look, they train hard, they have amazing skill, talent, and ability.

But, an athlete is more that what they look like.

Athlete: [noun]
"A person trained or skilled in a sport and one who regularly competes with others in organized events."

(Emphasis mine)

No where in the definition of an athlete does it say that you have to have 8% body fat, or have exquisitely define musculature. It says you just need to train and compete. I have volunteered at two Ironman events now (Wisconsin and Arizona). Ironman is considered the pinnacle of long distance triathlon in terms of achievement. One of the things that you will quickly see is that the competitiors come in all shapes, sizes, and capabilities. But I would never, ever dream of not thinking of any of them in any terms except as an athlete.

One of the things that I love about triathlon, is that I've never seen any judgement from the elite athletes of the age groupers or the back of the pack. One of the things that warms my heart is seeing the pro's come back out as midnight gets closer and start honoring those who are coming in with every last ounce of will that they have. All the judgement is in my own head.

Getting wrapped up in the mental aspects of trying to chase an image of a body that isn't yours is wasted effort and a mental drain. It's something I have got to learn and keep with me. I waste more energy chasing something that doesn't matter.

Now this doesn't mean that I won't try and improve my overall body composition. But at the end of the day, what matters is that I cover 70.3 or 140.6 miles and do it with in the time limit and finish (borrowing from my friend J (who shall remain anonymous to protect the innocent :)) upright and out of the medical tent. A finisher is a finisher no matter if you are 250 pounds, 150 pounds, 8% body fat, or 28% body fat. And anyone who trains for an event is an athlete. If you have the courage to get up off the couch, train, and toe the start line - you are truly and athlete. And even if you don't get to the start line, as I well know - life can throw you a curve ball, you are still an athlete.

To me the key part of that definition is the trained word. What matters is that you get up and try.

Now, do I remember this all of the time? No. Should I? Yes.

There are other issues that are wrapped up in this for me that probably aren't ready to bring out on the blog yet, but this is what I'm working on now.

So if you see a big man or woman out there moving along ... think of them as an athlete. Because they are and I suspect that many of us struggle with that.

And if you want to peruse the article that spawned this post, here is the link:

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

He's baaaaaaack.

Yeah, I'm back. No really, this time I mean it for real.

I got inspired by a friend who I read their blog and it made me want to start again. My journey went a little sideways for a while and I ran into some serious challenges, but we are back on track. Hungrier, more determined, and hopefully a little smarter now.

So parts of this post may seem a little down, but it's really just recalling where I was at and ultimately I'm past the worst of it.

So, when I last left this blog I had planned on doing Ironman Wisconsin in 2014 and I was on the ramp up for Ironman Miami 70.3 in October of 2013.

Let me explain, no - that will take too long, let me sum up...

About a month before Ironman Miami, I did my first greater than 10 mile race at Disney World at the Tower of Terror 10-miler. Had a fantastic experience and had a wonderful time.

Ironman Miami 70.3 - DNF. This DNF really crushed me even though realistically, I did everything I could. Why did I DNF? As the swim started, I got kicked in the ribs and fractured 3 ribs during the start. But I didn't really realize at the time, probably adrenaline. But where I have to give myself credit (or is it insanity?) was that I didn't quit. I finished the swim and I got out on the bike and went out to nearly the turn around. And that's when I passed out on the bike and crashed into the median as I tried to stop recognizing that something was wrong. Next thing I know, there is the paramedics ... including the guy who was asking me if I was OK at the previous aid station. The hardest thing I had to hear was the paramedics radioing into the base with my race number and the 3 letters DNF. That was a crushing moment. I truly was depressed for weeks after that.

I really have to thank my friends that stuck with me and really helped pull me through that dark time. My wonderful wife Juanita saved my sanity more than once. Did I take it too hard, yes. But it was something that I had put my heart and soul into and it was ripped out of my hand by a twist of fate.

Yet, out of that blossomed some wonderful friendships that I have to this day by friends who helped me pick up the pieces and put it back together. About 8 weeks later, I finished my first half marathon at the Seattle Half Marathon. For those of you that aren't familiar with the course, it's a hilly SOB. But, I had the most awesome set of friends and cheering squad who ran with me and cheered me on to my first half finish.

My first full marathon came not long after that when I finished (barely, but I finished) the Disney World full marathon. Some wonderful stories out of that one, like having a shoe full of blood from a broken blister at mile 13. But I swore to myself that there was absolutely no way that I was giving up on this dream either. And I kept plugging away. And I finished. I was slow as a turtle in peanut butter, but I had some wonderful memories from that race from the awesome spectators and the wonderful support I got from my team mates who raced with me.

Wisconsin turned into IM AZ and then 2014 happened. 2014 was the year of hell.

First, my ankle started to deteriorate. Then I got diagnosed with bone cancer in my leg. Yeah, that was a fun way to start 2014. So, I started to get radiation treatment to treat the tumor. Went through one round and we thought we got it. A few months later, nope - it's back. And so we underwent round two during the summer. Which ended up making me pull most of my summer race calendar off because I was barely able to train.

My weight climbed back up - I was still far, far away from where I started, but that was a blow. Felt like I was accursed. And mentally I collapsed. It was not a great experience in 2014.

Again, I have to be thankful for my wonderful wife and for all of my friends that I developed through my coaches group - some of them are friends far outside of just my training partners now.

Let me tell you this... If you ever have to face a serious medical illness or cancer or any major life altering event. Find a few close, very good friends, and you will get through it. My wife, also my best friend, saved me on more than one day. And then my friends outside there were my support network to keep me sane and trying to move forward. Seriously, mentally I would have been destroyed without them reminding me how strong I actually was training for an Ironman, battling cancer, and battling major orthopedic issues all at once.

At the end of the second round, we were pretty sure that we've gotten it all this time - and so far we've been right. I've been cancer free now for 6 months and I'm hoping for that streak to continue.

And the end of it all though, my ankle deteriorated orthopedically  to the point of the surgeon telling me that if I continued I risked doing permanent damage. So under the knife I went and the dreams of IM AZ died.

I ended 2014 recovering from my 3rd ankle surgery in 4 1/2 years.

And then there's the mental piece... by the time we got to surgery, I was back to self hate. I hated the way I looked, I hated the way I trained, I hated my failures, I pretty much had self-loathing to spare. I know better than to fall into that trap, but it's so seductive. I spent the week before surgery debating on if I wanted to chuck it all and give up on my Ironman dreams and just give up.

But then I had two moments that really pulled me back from the brink of that decision. First was a long conversation I had with my wife ... and she told me how seeing me fight through all of the setbacks my body was throwing at me inspired her as she battles chronic migraines. She told me that my fighting spirit kept her going at times. It was a moment that made me realize that there is still that spark of something in me that others could see. It really helped me realize that I still have more to offer. I have dreams that need to be fulfilled and I have places to go.

The second moment was when a friend of mine (names withheld to protect the awesome) had a conversation with me about how when she felt challenged or didn't want to do a workout, she'd think of everything I'd battled through and how I kept trying - even though I didn't hit my goal, and it would inspire her to go out and get it done. That's a powerful moment. To know that someone who is a fantastic athlete and is skilled in ever athletic endeavor is inspired by me.

And yeah, that's the root of a lot of the mental issues for 2014. Self confidence. When someone tells me that I'm and inspiration, I'm like "what?" "Who are you talking about?".

Those moments helped me renew and recommit to my goals. So much so that in the hospital post surgery, I took a sharpie and wrote IM NZ 2016 on my leg right above the bandages and incisions. A couple of the nurses and my surgeon though it was pretty cool. I decided at that moment, to renew, to go again.

But as 2014 closed, I came to a realization. I am not a set a medals on a wall. I am not a set of PR's, times, places. I am not expected to be perfect. I don't have to carry the weight of a million expectations on my shoulders as I shoot for my goals. I am who I am and I don't have to be perfect on the first attempt.

And another friend reminded me of a great quote from Teddy Roosevelt:

"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat."

So 2014 ended with me turning the page and going back to a happier place. I am not perfect and I have a lot of mental and physical work to do. But I will do my best and that is all anyone - mostly me - can expect. This has to be fun, otherwise why do it? So, I'm having fun. I'm reveling in the strength I am starting to reclaim. I having fun working out again. Sore is ok and actually feels good. I'm not fully back, but I feel like I'm on the right track again.

There's a major mental / nutrition piece that I'm now realizing and addressing - but that's not ready to talk about yet.

So, as 2015 is now here ... I found myself walking through hell, but I keep going.

And I close this out with a few lyrics from a song I love now ...

"There's a time in your life
When the world is on your side
You might not feel it
You might not see it
But it surrounds you like a light
Makes you stronger for the fight

Never letting go, gotta learn to grow
Watch me as I touch the sky
Still I fly
Now I know it's what I gotta do
Find the dream that's new
Give it all I got this time
Still I fly
Still I fly"

So, I'm off to fly ... Hope you readers stick around for the ride.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

All these things that I've done

Oh, my. I've been meaning to get back to the blog for quite a while now. It has been a crazy summer, full of highs, lows, and everything in between. As I write this post right now, I'm on an airplane on my way to Madison, Wisconsin to witness, volunteer, and cheer on a friend at Ironman Wisconsin; as such, it seems like the most appropriate time to get back to the blog and update you all dear readers (hopefully there are still a few out there who are wondering what in the heck happened to me!) on what has been going on since I last updated the blog back in, gulp, May!

First, let me extend an apology. I know that many of you used my blog to keep in contact with me as I train towards my goals. I do apologize for going dark, and while there are no excuses, there are reasons that we'll get into about what happened. But I'm back and I will be making a much more diligent effort to keep the blog updated.

The title of this post is from one of my favorite songs that is in my playlist for when I'm out running, or doing my best imitation of running. Part of the reason that I'm coming back to this blog is because I want to acknowledge what I have done so far. When I started this journey, I was just coming off of yet another major orthopedic procedure on my ankle, I was extremely overweight, and I was darn miserable in my own brain. But I made a goal and a pact with myself to turn this thing around. That was in July of 2012. Here we are now in the very beginning of September of 2013, basically about 14 months into my journey in becoming a triathlete.

At the end of a recent race, I took a look back and decided to objectively evaluate what I had accomplished after a tough race in which very little went to plan and I was feeling unsettled. After I did, I realized that while I remain looking forward to the goals that are in front of me, it is wise and well for me to turn around and look at the distance I've come. So, here is that list:

  • I've run 5 5K races
  • I've run a 8K road race
  • I've run a 10K road race
  • I've run a 10K trail race
  • I've run a 12K road race - Bloomsday including running up Doomsday hill! (mostly running it)
  • I've completed an indoor triathlon
  • I've completed a sprint triathlon
  • I've completed an Olympic distance triathlon
  • I've swam an ironman course twice (all 2.4 miles)
  • I've swam across Lake Washington (2.56 miles)
And nothing in that list covers all of the miles, milestones, and achievements that I've done just in training. Oh, yeah - and there is one other little thing to add to that list.

  • I've lost right about 145 pounds (it fluctuates a bit during this peak training I've seen)
So, if I'm fair to myself and turn around and look at where I've come in such a short time. That is something to be proud of.

It's a summer that has not been without it's challenges either, both physical and mental. The physical challenges have been with my back, my Achilles, and still with the ankle. It seems that for a while we were playing round robin with which ailment would limit me in training. The ankle has been up and down, but for the most part we are now in the stage of it being better. However, I've developed a case of Achilles tendonitis which has yet to go away completely. It comes from having muscle imbalances in my calf and lower leg from walking uneven for so long.  Then I tweaked my back a couple of weeks ago and it kept me laid up with limited workouts for a couple of weeks. These are things that can happen in training and I will learn to have to deal with them as I ramp from here to a full Ironman event. That doesn't mean that it isn't frustrating!

The mental challenges have been the worse. There have truly been some dark moments as I trained this summer. There is a significant lack of confidence that flows through me and it reared it's ugly head in a big way during this summer. I have been incredibly lucky that I have been surrounded by so many excellent training partners and friends, and then most of all my understanding wife who have helped me, listened to me, given me advice, and just generally thrown me a life preserver when I've needed it.

Recently, this weekend, I finally put a finger on what has been eating at my self confidence and made me doubt, at times, that I could compete and finish some of these races that I've selected for myself. Ultimately, what it boiled down to is that I didn't feel like I was good enough or as talented enough as the people I admire and respect, and so I didn't see that I could do the things that they have. Well, you know what - I do have talent and I can do this. I may not be as fast as many of them. I may not be as experienced as many of them. But I've put in the training time. I work hard. I try my best. As I have also been reminded by my coach and by many of these people, I have a lot of heart and I've been told by many of them that the find me to be an inspiration. So, why do I think I'm not as good as them? A lot of it comes from my youth in which I never really had anyone tell me that I was good enough to do this sort of thing, or never was really encouraged to be proud of what I can do or have done.

That last little bit probably requires some explaining because I still find it challenging. I often have a hard time with pride because I was discouraged from it because I was told it would be found to be arrogant. As I'm learning that isn't true. Sure, pride can turn arrogant. Pride doesn't mean that you aren't humble as well. There is a line between pride and arrogance and I have to learn that it's ok to zfeel a little more pride, well, more than zero. Pride lets you believe in yourself, believe in your worth, believe in your capabilities. If I never feel pride in myself, I will always put limits in front of me.

I'm getting some assistance now in working through all of these things and I think it is beginning to work. This past weekend, for the first time, I think I truly believe I'm going to make it in Miami for my half ironman. That's not to say it will be easy. It won't be (sure would be great if it was!). But, I will cross the finish line and even if it's a DLF, I can still be proud of it. How many people can say that they've done the things that I've done in the last 14 months? How many people can say that they've toed the line of a half ironman and finished? And then gone on to sign up for a full Ironman? I will never be a gazelle, but just because I'm not a gazelle doesn't mean I'm not an accomplished athlete.

Are there still challenged to be faced? Demons to be slayed? Kraken to be defeated? (Ok, that last one comes from a comic about running from The Oatmeal (http://theoatmeal.com/comics/running)). Yes, Yes, and sure why not? My weight has crept back up a little bit, but as I've been told by my coach and medical professionals and others, this can be expected during the height of training because it's hard to feed the body for the level of intensity that I am doing and as well, there are likely body composition issues going on. I will get through it, but also I am not a number. I am not defined by what the scale says. I am more than that.

So, moving on from the mental games that have been plaguing me this summer...

My Ironman target has moved. I was originally going to do Ironman Wisconsin next year, but instead a bunch of friends and teammates have organized around doing Ironman Arizona next year instead. It's why I'm on a plane headed to Madison right now as I was going to volunteer and register for it this year. However, It looks like that at last count there is likely 7 or 8 of us that will be racing Arizona that day. I was the only one looking at Wisconsin for next year and the thought of having a huge chunk of the team there encouraging each other and sharing in the trials and tribulations of training for the same event is far, far too enticing to pass up. I'm almost giddy with excitement about being able to train and race with all of these people that have become so much more than teammates to me. They've truly become my friends.

So that means I'll be volunteering at both Ironman Wisconsin and Ironman Arizona this year. And that's OK. I truly will get to drink in the experience, learn from it (much as I did when I went to the Vineman 70.3 to cheer on my friend Krista), and really get amped up to reach for that goal. On top of which I get to cheer on teammates who are competing at both events as Jen is at IM WI and Eileen is at IM AZ.

I'm back ... I will be more frequent and I will be posting a few catch-up entries here over the next few days to catch people up on some of my races and where we are at in training for Ironman Miami which is now just 52 days away from today. And soon, I hope, nay will, be sharing in the moment that I will cross the finish line triumphant in beautiful downtown Miami as I achieve step one in a life time of new goals and achievements.

The buffalo continues to roam, and thanks for coming along for the ride.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013


This is an old post that has been sitting in my drafts folder for a while. I debated deleting it, but I thought maybe it might help someone else out there who has the same fears that I've have struggled with and maybe they can look at this and see that, yes, you can have these fears and continue on.

Since I originally wrote this, I am in a better place than I was. I did have a chat with my coach and let a lot of these fears I'd been sitting on and letting stew, and just got them off my chest through a mini-meltdown while I was at tri-camp. Some of my confidence issues I think were completely nutritionally related as we have spent some time looking at nutrition and realized that I've been way under my calorie needs as my training ramped up and my brain basically went into meltdown mode because I was starving it. But it also helped to voice it and get it out there.

As you read this, I am in a better place, training is picking up and I'm rebuilding some confidence that I had broken. I'm still on track for my goals and I still have the most wonderful wife, friends, and training group. It will get better. Sometimes you have to find the bottom before you know which way is actually up.

(More after the original post)

I struggled with deciding to post this to my blog or not. I'm sure people out there are probably tired of me being up and and down. I'm sorry, I'm really trying to stay positive and stay up, but it's where I'm at. If you continue to read, I appreciate your time.

There are many things in life that I have an excess of. I would gladly trade some of those things for some confidence.

Ah, my mortal enemy ... self-confidence.

What is the most terrifying phrase to me, from an athletic / training point of view? It's very simple and just three letters long:

That phrase literally can wake me up at night with terror. Right now, I'm suffering from one of those bouts again. Maybe it's just nerves before I go for a training swim today. I'm certainly not afraid of the water. It's not that I'm afraid something bad will happen to me, it's terror that I'll be so slow that they'll pull me from the race. I'm afraid that when I get into the water and go for a swim tonight that I'll come out having swam so slow that the pace would show I won't make the cut-off. Yikes.

I know I'm making progress. I had a good weekend. The bike went well, from a training perspective, and the brick run was good. The 10K was good for a first trail run. So what has me spooked?

I don't know the exact cause. Maybe because when I start to gain confidence, then I look around me and realize I'm a long way from being a triathlete. I haven't proven that I can do this. So then the questions start in my mind ... something along the lines of "what makes you think you can do this?"

I found a quote today (and posted it on Facebook already) that seems so true:

"I think all the time that other people have more confidence in me, than I do in myself"

The time limit in Miami is 8 hours from the last wave and then there are intermediate cut offs for each leg. I fear each of those cut offs because, outside of the swim, I have little to no confidence that I won't be the last one out there, all alone, with people impatiently tapping their foot waiting for me to get the heck off the course so they can go home.

And probably even larger, I've been sitting on a fear of letting the people around me down if I fail. At the top of my list is my wife. I fear letting her down because she's invested her life in me and she has been willing to live with me as I go around the training merry-go-round and, heck, she put up with me through all of these orthopedic surgeries so that I can try and complete an Ironman.

I'm afraid of letting down my coach - I know I'm probably not the easiest of her athletes as I've got quite a few challenges in training between just being heavy, having run issues because of injuries, and I'm just not very good at this (yet). She has put in a lot of effort and time with me and I'm truly afraid that with all she has given me in terms of knowledge, effort, and motivation that I will have wasted it all if I DNF. I really don't want to let her down.

There there are all of my friends and training partners who have lent me advice and support and been there for all of the times that I've needed help. How do I look them in the eye if I DNF? How do I not feel like I've wasted their time on me. How do I not let them down?

As you can see, it's going to be a challenge for a bit here ... This DNF thing scares me and I just don't know how to cope.

I'm back in the present tense now. :)

Am I still afraid of a DNF, yes. But it doesn't keep me up at night now. Even the pros have a DNF from time to time. Ironman (even a half) is a serious event and things can go wrong that are totally out of your control. I cannot worry about those. All I can do is log the workouts, put in the miles, and put in the effort and be as ready as I can be. If I do, then I have given myself every opportunity to succeed. Also, having actually sat down and talked with family and friends about my fears about letting them down, they have universally told me that even if the worst were to happen and I DNF'd, there is no way that I would let them down (one of my friends told me that I'm her inspiration / hero - there's something about that which can bring a lump to my throat to think that I can inspire someone like that). They have all reminded me how far I've come in such a short time. Some of the best words said to me talked about my heart and my determination. The only way I could let them down would be to quit trying. And that isn't going to happen.

To wrap this up - if you're out there and you're reading this and you feel like I did when I originally wrote this, then please take one piece of advice. Talk to someone about it. You may find that getting those fears out in the open and talking them through with someone may actually make them not so scary any more. A support system is huge, be it small or be it large. My coach once told me that we all need someone to lean on from time to time and it's absolutely true. Find that person, or people, and talk about it. Festering on a lack of self-confidence feeds it (or at least it did for me). Thus endeth the speech. :)

Saturday, April 20, 2013

And the race calendar gets fuller...

Well, I've taken further steps towards getting myself ready for Ironman Wisconsin next year. Yep, my race selection for my full Ironman is basically locked now. So much so, that I'm also going out to Wisconsin this fall to volunteer at IMWI and get a feel for what I've gotten myself into! It'll be fun, plus I think there is at least one person that I know racing in Wisconsin this year, so I can go cheer them on too!

But we've also started to fill in the race calendar for more stepping stones to my "A" race this year in Miami and just a few other things for fun...

Event Date Race Type
Spokane River Run 4/21/2013 10K Trail Run
Bloomsday 5/5/2013 12 K Run
Chelan Camp 5/17/2013 Triathlon Camp
Issaquah Triathlon 6/1/2013 Sprint Distance Triathlon
Canada Camp 6/26/2013 Triathlon Camp
ChelanMan 7/21/2013 Olympic Distance Triathlon
Twilight Zone Terror Run 10/5/2013 10 Mile Run (Walt Disney World)
Ironman Miami 70.3 10/27/2013 Half-Ironman Distance Triathlon - "A" Race
Walt Disney World Marathon 1/12/2014 Marathon
Ironman Wisconsin Ironman Distance Triathlon (Sep 2014) - "A" Race

Ready to rock the trails...

I added this race this week because I wanted to run in an organized race as a symbol of strength, defiance, hope, and so many other emotions after the tragedy of Boston on Monday. Well, here I am in Spokane, doing a 10K trail run.

While this run is certainly a training run for me, I run for those who have lost the ability to run, I run for those that didn't get to finish their dream run, I run for those that were killed, I run for those who were injured, and I run for the Boston Marathon and the city of Boston to show that no two deranged individuals can stop us from living our dreams and coming together as a community.

I may not be running 26.2 tomorrow, but I still run for Boston.

I'm tagged and ready to go!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Race report from Bridges to Brews

And so we have made yet another milestone! I now have a 10K race under my belt. There's a mental thing that I'd be able to call myself a real runner when I'd finished racing a 10K race, and now it's done. It may not have been the smoothest or best 10K ever, but it's done now and now I can really feel like a runner. Of course, as my coach and friends have reminded me, I've been a runner now for a while. But, it still feels good to clear that mental barrier away. We'll talk about that more later...

So, how did we come to do the Bridges to Brews 10K race? It basically started because my friend Krista and I ended up looking for a run to do after her planned race didn't pan out and I couldn't get into the race that I had looked at as a backup on the same day as her race because it was full. So, I went on a quest to find a race we could do and maybe get a group together to do. In my search, I ended up finding the Bridges to Brews 10K. So, we put together a small group with Krista, me, Lesley, and Jim and made the road trip down to Portland for the weekend to have a fun race. On top of which - free beer is included with your race registration for after the race! How cool is that as a reward?

Yeah, that's the bridge we had to run up and over!
The B2B is a really cool course, but it was certainly more intimidating than it first looked. The race starts from the Widmer brewery on the east side of the Willamette River in Portland and then it immediately climbs up onto the I-205 Fremont Bridge. That's all in the first 1.5 miles. Needless to say, plans A - G on how I wanted to do this race when right out the window. But it turned out that it was OK in the end. Once you climb up onto the bridge deck, they used the lower bridge deck, there's a little bit more of a climb up to the crest of the bridge at around mile 1.5. Almost all of the elevation gain of this course is in the first 1.5 miles, with a little bit more at around mile 6 or so.

Going into the race, my original plan was to run to at least the first aid station non-stop (which was at around mile 2.5). That plan went out the window almost right away. It didn't help that before the race that weekend my ankle went totally wonky. I tried to do a 4 mile training run on the Wednesday before the race and I ended up having to abort it at around mile 2.5 or so and it was just not a happy camper. So it was still a bit tender, but better than it was. However, that really limited my uphill running capability. Not good when that's what you've got for the first 1.5 miles. However, I just did what I could, ran most of it and then got to going.

But after you crest that bridge, you get to go charging down the freeway and into downtown Portland. It makes you feel good to pick up all of that speed! I ran all the down hill and most of the run until about mile 4. Then I made the mistake of not fueling soon enough and I really started to feel worn down and started walking more and running less. As well, I was starting to suffer from serious chafing issues. The good news is that the rain didn't start until I was into mile 5 otherwise I suspect that the chafing issues would have been a lot worse. It was actually a beautiful day even though it was overcast and threatening rain (and actually did rain). Mile 4-5 was brutal. There was an aid station at around mile 4.5 or so. All I can say is whoever, from there had the Shot Bloks, I thank you profusely! I downed those and mile 5 - 6 was over 1:00 m/mi better. It was really a clear indication of what happens when you don't fuel in time. Lesson learned!

Coach Lesley did a huge favor for me and worked her way back on the course to reel me in for just under the last mile. It felt really good to have a little company in that last mile and it really helped me pick it up one more notch all the way to the finish.

So, when I crossed the finish line, I was ahead of my goal and I thought I'd done well. Later I looked at the watch and well, we hit a PR. Now granted this was my first race at this distance, I'd run a 10K before in a training run. I smashed down my PR for 10K, 2 months old, by 3 minutes and 27 seconds. That's a pretty good improvement for just two months.

This was an awesome event, made all the better by the company I had to and from the race. So thanks to Lesley, Krista, and Jim for the excellent weekend and awesome race.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Reflecting on Boston

My original plan was to post the race report from the Bridges to Brews 10K from Portland and catch up on the events of the last week from my training and progress, but given the events of yesterday I felt the need to talk about Boston a little bit. I'll post my catch up tomorrow instead.

The events that happened in Boston on Monday are truly horrific for anyone. For me, maybe it holds a different kind of horror because it's an endurance event that draws big crowds like many that I want to participate in. I could not help but think for a moment about the dread of if that were to happen where I was racing. My heart aches for each and every one of the participants, volunteers, officials, families, residents, and everyone affected by these events. My heart seeks relief for those who are in pain. I wish for speedy recoveries for all those injured and may comfort and peace somehow find those who are touched by those who have been lost.

But that dread and fear has passed and instead is replaced by a level of determination, maybe laced with a little anger. We cannot allow the cowards who attacked innocent people to make us change who we are and what we do. That's not to say we shouldn't take reasonable precautions. Of course, we must. But we cannot allow them to take these kind of events that bring people together from all corners of the world, the country, and our communities. We must mourn the lost and heal the wounded. But let us carry on these events. Let us have more people come out, spectators and competitors. Let us rise from the events of Boston 2013 stronger, faster, more determined. Let the events go on with more runners, more triathletes, more spectators, more everything.

They cannot defeat our spirit. Endurance athletes and those who love us know that these events are about pushing through pain, showing strength in the face of difficulty, and picking up our fellow human beings when they fall or struggle. These are traits that we know and let us use them to lead the way back from this horror.

I have chosen to register and run for a race this weekend to prove to the world that we are not afraid to come together and share the bond of competition, friendship, and comradeship the defines all endurance athletics.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Fundraising update

I think I've finally gotten everything set up!

Just as a reminder for those that may have missed the post a couple of weeks ago. I decided to make this journey back to being a healthy athlete as an opportunity to do more. I'm going to help kick cancer in the teeth. Part of my inspiration for making this journey is a good friend of mine, Christine Evans, who beat back breast cancer after she faced it down. She had nothing but grace, courage, humor, and spirit in the face of such a difficulty. I can only hope that I can show the courage and grace under fire that she has shown in battling this. And so, in her name, and in the name of every other person who faces down this beast called cancer, I am raising funds to put an end or at least put more happy endings to cancer.

My goal is to raise $25 per mile of my half-ironman (roughly $1775).

If you would like to join me in this cause, you can donate online through the following website.

I promise not to pester you through my blog about donating, but if you can - any little bit helps!

Thanks for listening and thanks for helping me give back during this journey.

Returning from a short hiatus (aka the Death Valley training report)

Whoops! Between a vacation and a busy week last with work and all, there is a lot of things to talk about. There has been good, bad, and just stuff.

Sorry about the delays, but here goes ...

The week before last, I got to spend it in Death Valley with my wonderful wife as a vacation for us, lots of picture taking for her, some picture taking for me, and then just because I'm a nutso aspiring triathlete in training ... I packed up my bike and took it with me for a little road training while I was there.

If you looked at what we packed, you'd think we were moving to Death Valley. No, really, there were only three of us going. :-)

The plan was that I was going to ride twice while I was there for about 17 miles and about 20 miles. I was going to do a couple of runs, and then some hiking around.

Lesson #42 for you in the triathlon playbook ... better be ready with plans L, M, and N because nothing ever goes according to plan A.

Unfortunately, on Monday while we were there I tried to go for a run up in the Panamint Mountains on the west side of Death Valley. I only got about 1.25 miles in before my ankle screamed at me to stop. It can be very insistent that way and when I don't do what it wants, it has a tendency to inflict pain to get my attention. I had to abort the run at that point. Now the good news is that I ran a good 1.25 miles non-stop. You may ask why that is good news? Because:

  1. It was non-stop
  2. It was at nearly 5000 feet of altitude and my normal runs are at 50 - 200 feet of altitude
  3. It was blowing me sideways off the road with a 20 mph wind
  4. I tried!
I learned some lessons. I need to look at how swollen my ankle is before I start for a run. A couple of times now that I've had to abort a run, I've noticed significant swelling in the ankle before the run starts. That needs to be a big warning sign. I suspect some of the swelling was from salty foods (lord, do they love their salt in Nevada) and some of it from travel. I also need to start wearing the compression sleeve I bought to keep it in check.

So, let's move on to the bike ride. I rode twice in Death Valley. Once from Furnace Creek to badwater and then from Stovepipe Wells to Furnace Creek. By the way, anyone who tells you Death Valley is flat ... not so much! But they were fun rides. The second ride was a struggle as it was 98 degrees that day and I had a 10 - 15 mph headwind, so I didn't make it all the way to Furnace Creek, but I conquered the big hill that was in between the two and I learned a lot about riding with nasty winds and in high heat. I may not have accomplished all of my goals,
but I look at it this way. I went on vacation, took a bike, rode in the desert, and put in miles I've never put in before. Any way you cut it, I'm making progress!

 Hiking, I didn't do as much of as a liked because the ankle acted up and the rough and uneven terrain really didn't agree with it. So, did I get in as much training as I wanted, no. But I'm still proud and impressed with myself that I did manage to get in the training that I did.

I'm getting better about dealing with adversity in training and my coach has to talk me off of the ledge now less when things go sideways. I'm sure I will continue to learn that every athlete has bumps in the road or workouts that go sideways. :)

Friday, March 22, 2013

This journey is not just about me...

I've been working on something in the background and all of the pieces are almost in place and enough of them are now in place for me to take the wraps off of it and announce it publicly.

I've decided that as part of my training / goals for getting to Ironman Miami 70.3, I am also going to raise funds for a charity that is important to me on many levels. I promise that this blog will not turn into an incessant pestering to donate (and I'm not even set up for donations yet, but I'm close).

I have a dear and close friend of mine that last year was diagnosed with breast cancer less than a year ago. Her name is Christine. I don't know how I would react if I were ever diagnosed with a cancer like that. However, all I can say is that I hope that I could react and be as courageous as she has been. I remember her telling me once that if this was all that her body could throw at her, she says "bring it". I won't detail what she went through, but she had multiple surgeries and never once did I see her crack, well other than crack a smile. She is a true inspiration of mine. She has courage, humor, strength in quantities that I can only hope that I have as well. During this whole procedure and recovery, she kept in contact with me during my recovery from my last ankle surgery and gave me words of encouragement and strength when what I was facing was nothing near that. She is recovering and is now without cancer. I wish I could do justice to how much courage and grace she has shown, but words can never do it.

Cancer has woven a fabric into my life through friends and relatives with some surviving and some not. But either way, it feels like it has been a shadow that lurks around too many corners and I see too many people I care about being ambushed by it.

So today, I say enough!
I posted a quote yesterday about what doesn't kill me, had better start running? Well, I'm twisting that slightly today.

Whatever attacks my friends, had better start running. Cancer, I'm looking at you.

I started down the journey to Miami for myself, to make myself healthier, fit, and achieve personal goals. And I still have and intend to do all of these things. But I want to make this more than just about me, I want my desire to become and Ironman keep someone else healthy, cancer free, or help them beat the monster in the shadows. Christine has inspired me that it's time for us to beat this thing once and for all, so I am going to raise money for the defeat of cancer in her name. I'm racing for Christine and every other man and woman who has ever faced cancer down (successfully or unsuccessfully). Christine, thank you for showing all of us how to face down the demons of life with courage, grace, and humor.

So, to that end - I'm setting a goal of raising a minimum of $25 per mile of my half Ironman to fund cancer treatment and research through the American Cancer Society in her name. So I'm setting a goal to raise at least $1775 (I rounded up) dollars for this cause. I will be setting up a donation site very shortly that you can go to contribute if you'd like to help me raise the money for this effort. I promise I won't pester you readers often with a request, but if you can - anything will help.

Thanks for listening, and thanks in advance for helping making my 2nd act in life something larger and more important than just getting healthy, fit, and becoming and Ironman  Let's work together to get someone else cured and across the finish line.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Am I a runner now?

The answer is a most emphatic yes.

Exhibit A: A nice steady run cadence
I, for the first time, ran more than a mile non-stop. But it gets better, I ran more than two miles non-stop. But wait, there's more, if you order now, you can get an additional .31 miles. I went 2.31 miles non-stop to the hill where we were running hill repeats last night. I've never done this before (I think I'm repeating myself now), but it still amazes me. I've been able to cover longer distances with a combination of walk and run, but this is the first significant distance that I did as an all run. I know that even walk/run I was still running, but now I feel like I've joined the runners club for the first time as a full member.

Before I go too much further I have to thank three very special people; for without them, I could not have accomplished what I have. Juanita, my wife - without her support and without her encouragement on some of the darker days that I have zero confidence in myself, it would be an order of magnitude more difficult to pull off what I'm doing. To Coach Lesley and to Krista - I know I've thanked you both already elsewhere, but you deserve a shout out here too. These two wonderful and inspiring women kept me going when I felt tired and believed that I could do it last night. The value of surrounding yourself with people who believe in you cannot be underestimated.

Was my pace fast, no. Am I setting land speed records, no. Do I need to be running this slow for a little while, (wait coach, I got this one) yes. But most of all I feel like a runner in my own mind. Was I a runner before, yes. I just didn't believe it in my heart until I look at that chart and see that with the exception of the hill repeat drills, and crossing the street and getting back onto the trail towards the back 1/3 - that was all running.

I don't want to be full of myself, but I feel like this is a time to actually be proud of myself. This has been a good week so far. I dropped another five pounds and I've dropped a total of 112 now. I rode the longest I've ever ridden on the trainer inside and it really didn't bother me. I ran over 3 miles non-stop.

This is my time, this is my year, this is the moment in which I will seize the opportunity in front of me and rise up to new heights. There will be hits, there will be challenges, but each time I get knocked down, I will rise again stronger and more determined than before. For each of us can be more than our past, more than our weaknesses, more than our limitations, more than often what we believe we can be. For with belief, comes courage. With will, comes determination. With dedication, comes inspiration. See success in your own mind. There will be work, there will be tears, there will be joy. But most of all, there will be you on the other side with the memories, the everlasting knowledge that you chose to believe in yourself and go beyond your walls, break down the barriers, and be more than you thought.

I confess I struggle with these ideals, but that in itself is part of what I strive for. I strive for success being measured by me believing these things and believing that I am good. I may never be elite, and that's ok. I may fall short of a goal here or there, and that's ok - for I had the courage to put it out there and toe the line.

I'll leave you tonight with two final thoughts. My friend Krista sent me a quote that I now keep on my computer to remind myself from time to time:

"The miracle isn't that I finished. The miracle is that I had the courage to start." - John Bingham

And I leave you with this as well:

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? ... Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. ... It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others." -- From the movie Coach Carter

I hope someone reading this who may not believe that they can tackle their goals or reach for new heights realizes that you can. I hope that I can inspire you to believe in yourself. To all of my friends out there who are striving for goals - each and every one of you ... I believe in you.