Thursday, December 06, 2012

You can't be brave unless you are scared

Eventhough I'm a pretty laid back person and generally have a very casual attitude about most things. This comes at the expense of knowing that I have taken extrodenary measure to control as many varibles as possible. It's not that I portray a fasade of perfection or anything. But I have always felt like I could keep a lot of balls in the air and very rarly loose track of one. Well now here I am with all of my balls in the air and my hands are tied. So now I have no idea where my balls are or where they are going to land. It's very scary for a guy to not know where his balls are, beleive me!

This morning I was reading an article by Tim Deboom in Inside Triathlon. The article was basically about his discision to retire from professional racing. Tim is a 2X Ironman Champion and the last American to win in Kona. The article struck me because it's message has far more to do with facing the challenges of life than triathlon, at least for me. Like him, I'm at sort of transitional stage in my life. In my last blog I spoke a little about my struggles with the aging process. As we transition through the different phases of life there are several blind corners that can be pretty scary. In the article Tim talks about a card that his dad gave him that he always carries. The quote on the card really hit me "You can't be brave unless you are scared". The fear of what is to come is something I have given a alot of thought to lately. When I was younger, and believe me much dumber, I didn't seem to have much fear. Instead I thought that since I didn't know what was coming I didn't know what to be afraid of, So I usually jumped in both feet. This has sometimes been a bit foolish, sometimes very rewarding and a few times very painful. Most of the time though I was not really scared, maybe a little aprehensive but not scared. Lately, in all honesty, I've found myself feeling scared. Scared of what's to come around this blind corner. The stakes at this point in my life seem so much higher than they ever have before. All decisions seems to have such long lasting implications. I guess from a mathematical perspective they do in relative terms. Since my life is now more than 1/2 over everything takes on bigger relative weight. 10 years relative to a 80 year life (12.5%) seems small but 10 years of a 30 year life (33.3%), you get the picture. Another quote that Tim talked about in his article comes from the movie "The Shawshank Redemption" "Get on with livin or get on with dyin" So as I get on with livin I will do so bravely, because I am scared.

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Boston or Bust

This past month has been one of the strangest of my entire life. As the month began it looked pretty straight forward. Work, train, repeat and at the end of the month, race. What I did not factor in was my birthday. I mean I knew I had a birthday and when it was. I didn't know though, that I would be so affected by this birthday. This was number 49 for me. At this particular intersection of life the view is weird at best. Trying to hang on to youth but feeling the constant pull of time. It has provoked emotions and feelings I thought long since dead. Made me dust off old dreams to see if there is still any shine on them. Replay memories of the good, bad and ugly of a life lived mainly on my terms. It's made me look in my heart to see what I truly feel. It's pissed me off to no end and frustrated me to the point that like a deer in headlights I have no idea which way to turn. But through all of this turmoil I've learned a few things about myself. Most I won't dare share here. But some I will. I have great friends!! I have people that truly care about me!! Not all of my choices thus far in life have been bad. And you should NEVER ever give up on a dream. This past weekend I ran my 7th marathon. The Tri-Cities marathon is a fairly low key event. No big pre-race trade show. No pacers to help you reach your goal. There weren't bands playing along the route. As a matter of fact there weren't very many people along the route. But for me, this was the best marathon. Not just because I ran my best race ever. Not even because I qualified for the Boston marathon, ok maybe a little for that. I got to run this race with 2 very important people in my life, Tony "The Hobbit" Dibartolo and Meghan "The Little Faulker" Faulkenberry. Tony and I have been in several marathons running at the same time, but never running together. Great guy I love him like a brother, but he will not shut the fuck up. I told him prior to the race " if you run with us you keep your mouth shut or I'll punch you". He did! Meghan and I first ran together one day after swim practice last winter. Something wonderful happened for me that day. I found the perfect running partner!! At the time I didn't realize just how perfectly matched we were. Over the summer as we spent more and more time together training in all 3 disciplines it became evident that our training styles were very compatible. As we put in the time prepping for this race we pushed and pulled each other to reach a little deeper. We had expectations of ourselves and each other as all good training partners do. If you read my last post" Shut up and run", you know we don't talk much while training. But through our commiserating we also became great friends! Her and I ran most of this race side by side, step for step. Our cadence perfectly in sync. It's like there is a shared strength, 2 runners but it sounds like 1. Like both of us are contributing to make this 1 set of footfalls, so it takes 1/2 the work. Now if only we could figure out how to go twice as fast, maybe next year. I know that I worked hard all year and I earned that Boston spot. I also know that I would not have done it without Meghan, nor would I want to. We're going to BOSTON!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Shut Up and Run

Coming off Ironman Canada I was really looking forward to some time off. I was going to do some waterskiing cut some firewood and get ready for winter. My plans were changed a little when a really lame skiing crash bruised a lung and broke some ribs. This was just 1 week post Canada. A couple of days later The Little Faulker, yes that's really her name, challenged me to run the Tr1 Cities marathon. Having a good base I thought it might not be a bad idea. Meghan and I have ran together several times over the past few months and we run well together. So I decided to run the Sandpoint half marathon with her and if the bruised lung could take the punishment then I would commit to training with her. The race went fine and I was ready to give it a go. There are several things that make good training partners. You have to push each other and support each other and hold each other accountable to the rigors of the training schedule. But the thing, I think, that makes us good training partners is that neither of us feels the need or actually want to talk while we're training. I know there are a lot of people that like to spend there training time talking about their day or the problems in their life or just basically chitchat. Don't get me wrong if there is something that needs said we talk. Things like "watch out for that car" or "that hill really sucked" or "was that the last one" but for the most part the training is the focus. I think some people use conversation as a distraction so they don't notice how much they are suffering. Others just don't seem to be able to shut the fuck up. When I'm going out of my way to suffer for a purpose that's what I'm there to do, not talk about my day. Usually the suffering is a way for me to try to forget my day, not rehash it for somebody that really doesn't give a shit. But I digress. We are a little over a week away from the race now and I'm really not sure what to expect come race day. The one thing that I do know is that having a training partner has pushed me every single workout. Even when she was sick and couldn't get to the workout I still felt accountable to the goals we had set, and I got it done. So next week we will see if I have what it takes to go to Boston. Thanks Little Faulker for the push. As a not so insignificant side note. Meghan and I's training had a bit of a ripple effect. She, being the social media mogul that she is, invited all of our Tri-Fusion friends to our speed work track session. We had several people show up consistently. None more consistently though than my Jayne. Jayne even came the day Meghan was sick and ran the 800's in the crazy wind. And just so you know this past weekend Jayne PR'd in the Spokane half marathon by 5 minutes. Thats is a tough course to get a PR. She credits David Dennison for pacing her, and I'm sure that helped. But what really made the difference was Jayne learning, out on that track, that she CAN run fast. Really proud of her!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Canada part 2

Into T1 I was feeling great. Got my biking dress on as fast as I could and headed for my bike. I was at the very back. Seriously I think there were 4 bikes that had to go further than me. Now the fun part. The ride out of town was great, worked on eating my PBJ and settling in. My plan was simple keep my power around 200 watts and eat and drink as much as I could. The first real test came at Mclean Creek. This is a nasty little hill. What made this a test though was not the climb. The question is can I climb it at 200 watts while people are passing me. It's an ego thing, I hate getting out climbed. But for a long event like this I need to hold back, those people might be passing me now but I'll see them again. And I did about 5 minutes later. This happened all day long. I would stay nice and steady ~200 watts people would pass me on the hills and I would pass them back in 5-10 minutes. Usually never to be seen again. The next big test for me came at the top of Richter. Would I be able to let it fly down the back side. I have been worried about this so much I actually bought 2 new helmets. Over the summer I started thinking that perhaps the reason I freak out so much now going fast, other than the nearly 40 mph front flip in 2009, is the wind noise from my helmet. The damn thing sounds like I'm going warp 3 if you get above 20 mph. So I thought if I had an aerohelmet I may not hear as much wind noise. But no luck finding one in Spokane that fit my head right. So like a week before the race I was at Fitness Fanatics trying on their aero selections,no luck. So I tried just a different road helmet. It was nice and light and had tons of vents so I new it would be cool and maybe it would be quieter than my current helmet, it's not. So the Monday before the race I get an Email from one of the mail-order bike catalogs having a big sale. I looked through it and they have an aero helmet that I have not tried and a very liberal return policy. So I bought it with the plan of using it on my last little spin before the race. I was able to go down a few hills to see how much noise it made and make sure I could drink with it on without the tail hitting me in the back etc. The problem was the verdict after my little test drive was kind of unremarkable. About the best thing I could says was I didn't hate it. So I took it to Penticton not knowing if I would use it or my other new helmet. Long story long I went with the areo helmet. As I crested Richter and started to pick up speed I hit the brakes just a little then let her go. Then hit them again and let her go. Then I got to a spot when I could see what was coming for quite a ways and I let her rip. Now mind you this was not quite like I flew down this hill prior to my crash, I think I hit 48 mph that day. But I got it over 40, 42.5 to be exact. That was a huge breakthrough for me. However, when I got to the bottom of the hill there was a guy laying in the middle of the road in the fetal position. People were helping him but it didn't look good. When I passed him though rather than letting his misfortune derail my progress. I focused on the other 500 riders still cruising. The rest of the day I flew down all the hills and was in aero for several of them. Riding through the part of the course called the rollers or the bitches. A black suburban pulls alongs side and damned if Jessi Thompson isn't hanging out the passenger window screaming at the top of her lungs "you are a BADASS!!" It was awesome! more about her and Roger later. The next car had Mellisa Skelton and Dave Erickson and a video camera. Dave always puts together really cool videos of events he's watching so I tried to look cool while we were flying downhill. The out and back section was uneventful save for the special needs bag pick up. This was where I made my first mistake of the day. I mixed some new gatorade bottles and drank a V8 splash. What I didn't do though was to take and eat my turkey sandwich. I also dropped my protein drink in my haste to get back to work. The calories and electrolytes in that sandwich and that protein drink may have made the difference later on the run. The rest of the ride went very well. I could begin to see that barring a flat or other problem I was going to be c lose to 6 hrs. This got me pretty fired up and caused me to push a little harder than I should have. The last 5 miles were pretty fast for me.
Into T2 I felt great. While in T2 I felt like a retard with 2 left hands and no thumbs. My socks were inside out I put my calf sleeves on upside down. I just had to stop focus and take my time. Finally, like 10 minutes later, I was out the door. I started the run feeling fairly fresh, good turnover and mentally ready for the torture to come. Jayne was taking pictures telling me to smile.
Tony was running alongside giving encouragement. It was all much appreciated. The 1st mile was 8:19, I knew that wouldn't last. It all held together pretty well until about mile 10. At this point I started getting these HOLY SHIT!!! leg seizing cramps in my calves. I needed salt in a bad way. I started taking pretzels at the aid stations sucking the salt off and spitting out the pretzel. I tried to drink the Powerbar Perform they had on the course by that stuff was terrible, at least the flavor I was handed. At the turn around I was still in ok shape time wise @ 2:06. A little slower than I had hoped but ok. Jessi and Roger and Dave were there again to give encouragement. The first hill out of OK Falls is a bitch of a climb. I knew by the time I got to the top of it that things were going to really suck from here on. They did! I had to run so that I never really toed off, otherwise the calves would seize up. So I would shuffle. Mentally though I was fine, unlike 2010 when I felt like throwing myself in front of a truck. At mile 20 I caught Ron Crenshaw. This just isn't right. He was having major problems with his hamstrings and could not run. NOBODY worked harder for this race than he did. Totally sucked to see him walking. He gave me some encouraging words and sent me on my way. At this point its 6pm I have 6 miles left to break 12 hrs. Normally 6 miles in an hour would be a piece of cake but the last 6 miles of an Ironman.....Let's just say it took me considerably longer.
All in all I'm considering it a good day for me. It was an Ironman PR for me by ~ 20 minutes. It was an Ironman Canada PR by ~ 1 hr. I PR'd the swim by 3 minutes and the bike by ~ 30 minutes. I also want to give a couple BADASS of the day awards to some people that I thought went well above and beyond. 1st place badass of the day Matt Beard. 1st IM with a fractured bone in his leg and he past me at mile ~11 of the run. 2nd Place badass of the day Natalie Gallagher 1st time IM finisher in a very good time proving to some she more than just a pretty face. And 3 rd place Badass of the day is a group award for Roger, Jessi, Dave and Mellisa who drove the 5 hours to Penticton the morning of the race just to support those of us racing from Trifusion. 4th place goes to Erica Ziemer who I past on the bike because she was having her chain fixed, only to have her fly by me like I was sitting still some 5 miles later. Of course I had my own little support crew which I totally appreciate. Tony and Laura are great friends and traveling companions. And most of you know that Jayne is way more than I deserve. Looking forward to next season already. Next year will be dedicated to the 70.3 distance for me. I will however be training with Jayne and Meghan as they prepare for IM CDA.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Ironman Canada Part 1, The Rant and the Swim

The last time I wrote anything for this blog I was about to sign up for the 2012 Ironman Canada. This was to be the 30th anniversary of one of the most popular Ironman races in the world. I figured the organizers would pull out all the stops for such a momentous occasion. At a minimum I thought the shirts and hats would be extra cool. But more about that in a minute. About a week before the race we started hearing rumors on Facebook that the president of Ironman Canada had sold the rights to the race. Which seems like a weird thing to me, the whole business side of races. I mean I get the idea that there are brands and branding rights. I also get that someone collects money and pays bills and all of that. What is weird to me though is the idea that because of "business" there is no loyalty. Or least not the right kind of loyalty. It's like when the Oakland Raiders moved to LA or the LA Rams moved to St. Louis, WTF. You can at least make a case with the football teams that the teams belonged to someone. Players come and go as do coaches but the team as an entity could be transportable, so to speak. But Ironman Canada is an event. Much like say the Indy 500. Now you can have other 500 mile races in other places. But you can't have the Indy 500 in Memphis. Yea I know it's not IM Penticton and Canada is a big place. But IM Canada is as much about Penticton as the Indy 500 is about that racetrack. The race course in Penticton is what makes THAT race what it is. So for the Ironman folks to think that you can just move to a different location within Canada and still call it Ironman Canada is bullshit, in my opinion. You want Ironman Whistler, cool. Ironman Kelowna that's fine too. But Ironman Canada was a great race that lasted for 30 years in a cool little town called Penticton.
Now to be fair with my bashing, I think that the politicians of Penticton deserve a little as well. I don't think that 1400 Americans, give or take, are going to show up next August to compete in Challenge Penticton. We, Americans, don't know or care about the Challenge brand of races. Not that they don't put on great events, they may, don't know anything about them. I do though think I know Americans. We pay $10 more for something because it has the mdot logo on it. We like the word IRONMAN. It just sounds cool "I'm an Ironman". Who wants to say "I made it through the Challenge" or will it be " I'm a Challenger" Maybe it translates better in German, but I don't think it will catch on here. At least not right away. I do hope though that it is a wake up call for the WTC. Quit acting like the quintessential rich guy running a monopoly. Don't forget it's us age groupers that pay the bills. WE buy the gear your "sponsors" sell, pay the fees and most of us have served as volunteers on more than one occasion. So quit screwing us over. If we get hurt and can't race give us our money back, or at least most of it back. When 2800 people sign up a year a head of time there is really NO reason to run out of swag bags. It's like when Seinfeld made the reservation for the rental car and when he got there they had no cars. ~2800 signed up for the race so they should have had at least that many bags. I personally know 1 person, Kathi, who couldn't race because of a broken arm. So if anything they should have had at least 1 extra bag, right. There were 2 pages of names of people that didn't get bags when I wrote my name down. Enough of that now lets talk about the day. We stayed down in Osoyoos so that means getting up extra early to make the ~40 mile drive. It was a beautiful sunrise as we drove into town. The water was flat and not a cloud in the sky. After kissing Jayne goodbye I headed to the lake. Not because it was time but because I really had to pee and the line at the honey buckets was crazy. So I zipped up the wetsuit and waded out and took care of things. As all the other competitors waded into the lake I moved up to the front of the holding area. I started right in the front and center. I could hear a lot people chatting behind me but most of us in the front row just kind of stood there staring at the course in front of us. Chomping at the bit, we just wanted to go. Then the horn sounded and we were off. About 2 minutes into the race and I got my first ever kick in the face. Right square in the jaw, still sore as I write this. I took about 1200 meters before things thinned out enough to swim comfortably. I did get stuck behind this one jackass, for what seemed like a long time, who could not swim straight to save his life. Every time I would surge a little to try to get by him the he would cut me off. I finally broke down and decided I would have to kick a little to get by him. Everyone that has seen me with a kick board knows that was a huge deal for me. After that it was was pretty smooth sailing. On the way back to shore I was just on the inside of the buoys swimming stroke for stroke with a woman, pink swim cap. I think her and I were the only 2 people swimming in a straight line. We had people cut into us, and we passed people but her and I stayed about 3 ft apart from each other and 3 ft off the buoys the whole way in. I did try to surge little right at the end meaning I tried to kick again. Only this time I was in about waste deep water and kicked a rock. What a dumbass! Up the beach and over the timing mat and I see Kathi Best. I asked her what was that time and she pointed to the clock 1:09 SWEET! 3 minutes faster than the last time I did this race.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

IM Canada and My Upcoming Marathon

This weekend Ron Crenshaw and I are heading to Penticton, Canada. This trip has 2 purposes as I've said before I'm volunteering for the race and signing up to race next year. It's funny though because I've been planning this since I finished last years race,less than satisfied. So now all of sudden, out of the blue, I'm a little nervous. When you sign up for your first Ironman you're nervous,and you should be. This will be my 4th Ironman.So why am I worried? I have no delusions about my abilities or lack thereof. But I do have goals and so far I have not lived up to my own expectations. As every year passes I lose another step, work harder, to just maintain. So with every opportunity to compete comes to possibility to fail. Now I'm not looking for a pep talk or anything like that. Just the opposite this is the pep talk. The possibility to fail is part of every endeavor. I think the nervousness is my sub conscience telling my conscious mind that I care about this race. Brilliant,right? Not really! I'm spending $600 and a year of my life preparing for this race, so I must care. I was discussing this with the Hobbit and I suggested that perhaps it's just my ego. But he quickly pointed out that if it was just my ego I would have quit this endurance stuff a long time ago because I've been beat by the old, the fat, the blind and even by a guy with one leg. So why this tinge of nervousness? No clue! That's the problem. By signing up for another Ironman I'm committing to a year of unknowns. Unknowns are always scarier than the known quantities. But down the rabbit hole I go. I'll keep you posted as I discover the questions and try to figure out the answers.
And on the other unknown coming up in 4 weeks to be exact, The Skagit Flats Marathon.

Friday, July 08, 2011

Long time, no write

Not that my life has been boring or anything, quite the contrary. A lot has happened since my last post. I just don't seem to make the time to write on here anymore,until now. I just got a confirmation email from the guy in charge of the finish line for Ironman Canada. I will be a catcher at this years race from 4-8:30. This should be pretty fun. Of course I have ulterior motives for volunteering, cuts in the sign up line. But I also believe in giving back. These races would never be as good as they are without the army of people that volunteer. The folks that were out at Yellow Lake last year basically spent their entire shift standing around in the rain/ hail/cold/wind. I just had to ride through there. And for that 7-10 mile stretch I was miserable. They, on the other hand were cheering and smiling and doing everything they could to help motivate me. At the time I couldn't do much more than kind of grunt and nod at them, but I did appreciate their efforts. Since I have worked on the bike course before at CDA I wanted to do something different. I have always loved watching the finishers come in, even if you do not know them. You can see the emotions come pouring out of people. The pride,excitement and relief of completing an Ironman is incompatible. So I think it will be pretty cool to see and share that with the finishers up close.
Next week I head back to Indiana for my 30 year class reunion. 30 years(fuck me!) it should be fun. I just can't believe I'm that old. The pisser is that I'm training for a fall marathon and next weeks long run is 15 miles. 15 miles is already hard but doing it in Indiana with 90 something % humidity is really going to be hard. I've lived away from the humidity for so long that it just knocks the crap out of me. But we will get it done, probably with a bit of a hangover.
Another big milestone has just come to pass. On July 5th Jayne and I celebrated 10 years together. When I say celebrated I mean we looked at each other and said holy crap that went fast. It has been the best 10 years of my life. Her and I have done some pretty cool stuff together and continue to look forward to doing things together. If you know me then you know what a dick I can be, so do I. So I feel very fortunate that Jayne is gracious enough to put up with me. I wouldn't!
Well let's call that a post, a bit random but so what.