Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Group Power

I’ve pretty much gotten back into the routine of training, but in a non-routine way. I’d gone into hermit mode during the last few months and did probably 95% of my training solo. There are benefits in doing that type of training and I know I’ll do it again in the future, but not anytime soon. I’ve changed my schedule around to fit in group rides and runs and it’s been great. There’s major motivation in knowing someone will be expecting you to show up.

Last week I did a little over 100 miles on the bike, maybe 15 miles running, and zero, zilch, nada, no swimming. I haven’t been able to pry myself out of bed at 4:30am to get in the pool during the last couple of weeks. I’ve got to sign up for a race soon. There’s major motivation in knowing race day is coming also.

Tuesday Dew count: 3

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Death to Dew

Mountain Dew, the crack of the soft drink world. A power packed mixture of caffeine and high fructose corn syrup. 170 calories of carbonated goodness sealed in a 12oz can.
It is the coffee of my generation. The jolt that shakes the cobwebs out each morning.
I began doing the Dew as a kid and have been dewing it ever since.
I’ve learned that high fructose corn syrup is the nectar of the devil and should be avoided at all costs. I was horrified when I discovered great quantities are packed into my beloved Mountain Dew.
Today I begin the process of de-Dewing myself. Reducing the 3 or 4 per day I am now consuming to 0 per day.
My plan: eliminate 1 per day in two week blocks. That’ll give me a couple of months to get the job done. I've been warned of the killer headaches induced by going cold turkey. Hopefully my trickle down approach will avoid the typical cranium splitting withdrawal headache.
Here goes….

Thursday, May 25, 2006


Dreams can be fun, scary, strange, goofy, depressing, and sometimes very realistic.
I’ve had the dream many times in which I show up at a triathlon missing some vital piece of equipment…bike, shoes, clothes, whatever.
Last night I had a somewhat similar dream, but I wasn’t in a triathlon. I was in a cycling road race. The twist…it was me and two other dudes on a triple seater. I was up front in control. One of the other two guys kept disappearing, and then poof, he’d be back. We were on a very hilly winding course. We took corners like motorcycle racers, almost touching our knees on the pavement. We were going very fast. It was night. We weren’t wearing helmets. And we were all wearing running shorts and running shoes.
I think I woke up before the finish of the race, so I don’t know if we won, ran off a cliff or just all vanished.
They say all dreams have meaning. Maybe this dream rolled some of my fears into one big goofy ball and played them out in a whacked-out roadie race, maybe it was just my subconscious out on a joy ride, or maybe it was my mind/body retaliating against me for doing a hard brick in very hot conditions yesterday.
Either way, it was a weird one.
Happy dreaming….

Monday, May 22, 2006


01-02-06 thru 05-13-06(GCT):

Swim: 39.33 miles (69,220 yards) / 23:21:10

Bike: 1212.23 miles / 67:53:43

Run: 252.86 miles / 40:08:06

Total: 1504.42 miles / 131:22:59

Rest Relaxation and Reflection

It’s been a week since race day and I’ve had a little time to look back.
Lessons learned: clear goggles may not be the best choice for this race. The sun was really bright coming back in.
Take the freakin sunscreen. My shoulders got really sunburned.
Take the extra 15 seconds to dry my feet in T1. My feet were white, wrinkled and burning at the end of the race due to them being wet the whole race. This could be a MAJOR problem in a full Ironman race.

I’ve stacked up the zeros this week (purposefully) getting in one session on the bike and one run. I’m rested up and ready to train for whatever is next, which will probably be a sprint race in August. The strange thing is, before Gulf Coast, I was looking forward to being able to take a break (more than a few days) from training. Now, post race, I’m more fired up about triathlon than I’ve ever been. I was online looking for another race the day I got back home. The mind is a strange thing, at least mine is anyway.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Gulf Coast Half Ironman Triathlon

What a weekend!
We packed up the J-mobile and headed south Friday morning. We arrived in Panama City Beach around midday, unloaded our stuff at the condo and headed down to the Boardwalk Resort for registration. After signing in and getting all of my race stuff (race numbers, timing chip, etc.), we headed down to Pineapple Willy's for lunch. We decided to eat out on the pier which goes out near the water. Our table was at the very end of the pier. The wind was howling and the waves were crashing into the beach. Not really the conditions I wanted to see the day before the race. After lunch, we headed to the grocery store for a few supplies and then crashed at the condo for a couple of hours. We headed back down to the Boardwalk Resort mid-afternoon for bike check-in. I racked my bike at the assigned spot and walked around the transition area to get a feel for how traffic would flow the next day. We looked around the vendor expo for a while and then headed to the pasta dinner/athlete's meeting. After getting my fill of pasta and attending the meeting, we headed back to the condo to turn in early. I'd need all the rest I could get to propel myself 70.3 miles the next day. After checking and double checking that I'd packed all my gear for the next day, I climbed into bed, hoping to get 7 or 8 hours of sleep. Thirty or so minutes after getting into bed I was off in dreamland, peacefully resting, however, this peaceful rest would not last long. An hour after going to started. I was suddenly jarred out of my slumber by the sound of a racing motorcycle engine at the stop light out in front of the condo. This was the first of many such awakenings. I managed about 3 hours of sleep before getting out of bed 2 minutes before the alarm was to go off at 3:30am. Nothing to do but press on. We arrived at the race around 5am. I went through body marking and then set up my transition area. I got into my wetsuit just before 6am and headed down to the beach to wait for my wave to start at 6:55am. It was quite a sight to see so many people on the beach so early in the morning. The buoys looked WAY farther out than I had envisioned. I just kept telling myself I'd done the distance dozens of times and I knew I could make it. The sea still looked rough, but not as bad as the day before. I gave DJ and KJ a final goodbye and headed into the holding area 5 minutes before the start. It was quite a surreal feeling to finally be standing there on the beach waiting to start. I'd thought about that very moment so many times, and now I was here.

Suiting up before the swim

Me and KJ on the beach before the start

Are you sure that isn't 10.2 miles?

The cannon sounded and we started. I lined up at the back of the pack to avoid the worst of the carnage. The sea seemed rough to me at the beginning and I swallowed a good bit of sea water. After 400 yards or so, things settled down a bit. I had trouble sighting due to the waves and zigzagged all over the place. Once, I looked up and was a good 15 yards out away from the others. I finally made it to the first turn buoy and made the turn to cross over to the next buoy which marked the turn to head back into the beach. I was very happy to make it to the last turn buoy. I'd settled into a good grove by that point and was feeling good. Just after making the last turn, a foot came out of nowhere and kicked my goggles off. I stopped briefly, emptied out my goggles and continued on. Though I continued to zigzag, the return swim went by quickly and I exited the water in 38:20. A great swim for me. I ran up to T1, removing my cap, goggles and wetsuit along the way. I took my time in T1 and exited in 5:09.

Here we go!

Heading out of T1

I took it very easy the first few miles of the bike. I saw the first of many riders on the side of the road with flat tires within the first few miles. I’d allowed my heart rate to settle down by the time I made the turn to head out of town on highway 79. I made it to the bridge soon and took it easy going over. The course turned onto highway 388 just after the bridge. Highway 388 is pancake flat, but several miles of it have pavement that is in poor condition. My Accelerade was sloshing out of my aerobottle many times due to the roughness of the road. I made it to the turn-around on 388 and was feeling very good. I’d kept my pace average at around 18-19 mph. As soon as I made the turn-around I felt the wind pick up, but it wasn’t enough to cause me to slow too much. I made it back to 79 and crossed the bridge at a much slower rate than before. The headwind on 79 was really blowing. The ride back into town on 79 was a struggle. The wind blew the entire way and I averaged around 15 mph on this stretch of road. Finally I made it back into town and into T2. I’d completed the bike portion in 3:12:34 at a rate of 17.4 mph. I was satisfied with my time, but when I got off the bike my legs felt like lead.
I made my transition and exited T2 in 2:30.

Starting the run

The heavy feeling in my legs soon subsided, but I never seemed to get it together enough to really give it a go. I was running 9:20 miles the first few miles, but by mile 4, I knew I would not be able to maintain that rate. I followed my nutrition plan exactly, took in water and stayed cool with ice and sponges, but I was getting tired. I entered the state park feeling pretty good and had a spike of energy. I took advantage of the spike and increased my speed. I looked at my watch and did a little math and decided I’d be able to finish in under 6 hours if I could maintain my current rate, or even a little slower rate. But, a mile later, the spike was gone and I’d slowed back down. At mile 8 I started having spasms in my calves and hamstrings. I had to slow even more to prevent an all out cramp-fest. I continued on, taking in Accelerade, water, and a little Gatorade. Mile 10 came and as I looked at my watch, I knew I wouldn’t be able to finish in under 6 hours. I would have had to complete the final 5k in 20 minutes. I knew I didn’t have that left in me. I was in survival mode the remainder of the race. Mile 11 and 12 came and went with my goal being to just keep running. As I made the final turn toward the finish line, I could hear the crowd. Soon I could see the finish line and knew I’d be able to make it. A couple hundred yards from the finish line, I heard a familiar voice shout “Daddy”. I ran over and grabbed KJ’s hand and we crossed the finish line together. Soon DJ found us and we celebrated a bit before heading to transition to gather up my gear.

Nearing the finish line with KJ

70.3 miles later

My finish time, 6:14:47.
This being my first half Ironman, I think I raced the smartest race I could on that day. Could I have gone faster on the bike? Yes, I think I probably could have. But it was all uncharted territory for me and the only map I had was my plan…which I followed to the T.
I’ll definitely be back next year looking to set a new PR.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006


I did in a short brick Sunday afternoon and felt great.

I had a great swim Monday morning. I felt stronger the longer I was in the pool (a rare occurrence).

I had a good ride on the bike yesterday, and although the freakin wind blew almost the entire time, I felt like I could have run well afterwards.

A funny thing has happened and it's just now beginning to sink into my thick skull. The moment I removed the pressure of achieving a specific time at the race was the moment I started feeling better about the race. I began looking forward to my workouts, had more energy, and was once again looking forward to the event.

Each set back during the last five months, whether it was injury or illness or something else, put more and more self-imposed pressure on me to work harder to get to the goal I'd set for myself. Before I knew it, I was in a major funk and didn't really know why. I'd begun to wonder if I should even do the race. Then, in desperation, I threw out my time goal and vowed to simply finish the race and have fun. After all, this would my his first half Ironman. Why shouldn't I take my time and enjoy the day. Suddenly the pressure began to melt away. VIOLA!

I wish I would have had this revelation months ago instead of days ago. If I had, I probably would have reached my goal time anyway.

I've begun to assemble all the stuff I intend to take on my excursion to the gulf. I've made a list and checked it twice and will check it many more times before packing it all into the J-mobile and heading south.

4 days...

Friday, May 05, 2006


The Js and a family friend headed out to attend a local walk-a-thon for the American Cancer Society. DJ's sister is a cancer survivor and the J's were there to honor her. Always looking to fit in a workout, I brought along my running shoes. My plan was to head out for seven or eight miles of running once we were at the walk-a-thon. I'd run, and then meet back up with D and K at the walk-a-thon and finish walking with them. I headed out shortly after ariving. At about mile two, I noticed a huge dark cloud was headed straight for the area. I continued on, hoping to get in a few more miles before the rain started. A half mile later, the wind began to pick up. I decided it was time to head back. Just as I made the turn to head back to the car, I began to feel the first few drops of rain. It was pouring in no time. I didn't really mind the rain, the lightening however, was not something I enjoyed. But, being three miles away from the shelter of the car, all I could do was slosh my way back. The rain subsided slightly a couple of times, but only briefly. By the time I made it back to the car, I was thoroughly soaked. There was a Burger King not far from where I'd had parked. DJ and KJ were waiting in the car when I got back. They were very glad to see me, espicially KJ. They followed me to the Burger King where I dried off a bit and changed clothes.

Dry clothes...never leave home without them. 5.33 miles/49:31.


Me in my Desoto T1 Wetsuit

A few weeks ago, I took a trip down to the Gulf of Mexico to give my new wetsuit a test swim. I soon realized I would not be alone in the ocean that day. I would share the shallow gulf waters with millions of horeshoe crabs. The over abundance of sea critters made swimming very difficult, but I managed to get in a few yards. I think the wetsuit will be ok.

Horseshoe crabs on the beach at Bald Point State Park, Florida

Feeling better...8 days

Thursday is my day off from training. I took it easy Thursday and allowed myself to rest and recover from the cold a bit more. I felt much better Thursday than the day before. I went for a swim this morning. Fridays are usually my long swim day, but after the last episode in the pool, I decided to do a little less than planned. I ended up with a 1.3 mile straight swim and felt great afterwards. I was very happy to get in a good session since the last week has been less than stellar, to say the least.
This time next week, the J family will be heading to Panama City Beach Florida for the Gulf Coast Triathlon. 8 days til race day.

Half Marathon Again, GCT, Sickness, Injury, and Burn Out

My race season was over. It was now time to decide on the next list of races. I decided my first race of 2006 would be to return to the half marathon I’d done the year before. I also signed up for the Gulf Coast Half Ironman Triathlon, my biggest race yet. I began my year with the intent of slowly building up my mileage and keeping the intensity low. I did very well at sticking to the plan for the first few weeks of the year. Soon though, I found myself feeling very fit and wanting to up the intensity. Before I knew it, I was training too hard without cutting back on volume. Before long, I'd overextended myself and ended up sick. This would be the first of several derails on the road to the Gulf Coast Tri. I got well and was back on track within a few weeks.
I began extending my long runs in an effort to prepare for the half marathon which was rapidly approaching. After the final long run during the build up for the half marathon, I had considerable pain in the outer portion of my right knee. I took it easy during the remaining couple of weeks leading up to the half marathon, hoping the pain would not become worse. I lined up for the half marathon hoping to finish with a time of one hour and fifty minutes or better. The gun went off and I felt fairly good. I was right on pace for the first several miles and my knee felt good. By mile eight, I had increased my speed beyond my projected pace and was having thoughts of a great finishing time. It was just beyond the eight mile point that I began to have some knee pain. I continued on at the same pace, but by mile nine, I had begun to have some cramping in my calves and the knee pain was increasing. I slowed my pace a bit in an effort to ease the cramping and pain. At mile ten, I had a climb that only served to increase the cramping. Mile eleven and twelve saw me slowing more to hold off the cramping. Wind increased significantly on mile 13 and I was struggling to make it to the finish line. In addition to the cramping, my knee had begun to hurt even more. I was so preoccupied with the pain that I missed the final turn to the finish. I got back on course and crossed the finish line in just over an hour and 52 minutes. I was in a good bit of pain at the finish line. I continued to walk, hoping the pain would subside, but it didn’t. I didn’t stay for the awards ceremony. I was sure my time would not be even close to placing, and I was ready to get off of my feet. I iced my knee and did no running for a few days after the race. To my dismay, I later found out I’d won second place in my age division. I wished I’d stayed long enough to hobble up and get my medal.
Even after a few days of rest, my knee continued to hurt while running. I began to have doubts about being able to complete the half Ironman, which was only weeks away, and had thoughts about not doing the race at all. In desperation, I decided to visit my doctor. The diagnosis, IT band syndrome. The treatment, a shot of cortisone under the band. Within a few days, the soreness of the shot wore off and I headed out for a test run. The pain wasn’t totally gone, but it was much better. Each run got better until there was virtually no pain at all.
There were three weeks left before the half Ironman and I was beginning again to think I may be able to reach the time goal I’d set for myself back when I registered for the race. Then, a few mornings later when I woke up, I felt a strange sensation in my throat when I swallowed. Surely not, I can’t be getting sick when things are starting to come around. But, by that same afternoon, my throat was sore and there was no doubt I was getting sick. Over the next couple of days, fatigue and congestion set in. My sore throat began to get better within a few days, but the congestion and fatigue remained. After 5 days of doing no training, I decided to go for a ride. I did 25 miles on the bike and felt fine. The next day, I decided to go for a 5 mile run. I felt fine at the beginning, but my heart rate was soon much higher than it should have been. My effort felt high, though my pace was low. I was very tired after the run, but just attributed it to the cold and to the medication I’d taken. I decided to go for a swim the next morning. The swim started out ok, but I began to feel a little nauseated after 15 or so laps. I continued on for 15 more laps and ended the session at 30 laps. I felt terrible. After the swim, I broke out in a cold sweat and had no energy, on top of the nausea. I gradually felt better as the day went on, but not 100%. That was Wednesday, 10 days before the race. I felt much better Thursday, but still not 100%. I looked forward to the next training session to see how I would feel. I'd expected to feel much more fit and strong in the last few days before the biggest race I'd taken on up to this point. I'd now traded time goals for a goal of finishing.

I've become a bit frustrated with all the setbacks and intend to take a much needed break after the race is complete to rejuvenate. I had become so intent over the last few months on training to meet a certain time goal, that I'd let myself get a bit burnt out. I had become so involved in reaching my goal that I'd forgot to have fun and enjoy the process. I've begun to daydream about mountain biking, trail running, kayaking and marathon running. Who knows what new adventures I'll seek over the next few months. I'lll continue to run, probably more often. And I'll continue to swim and bike, but at a reduced volume and frequency.

Whew! So there you have it.
You’re all caught up with my endurance adventures to this point.
Of course, there were many other situations and setbacks I had to deal with throughout the last couple of years. And there were many fun and humorus happening's along the way that would have made this writing even longer. But my fingers need a break.
Stay tuned….

104, Medal, and KJ

I enjoyed the accomplishment of completing my first triathlon, but soon needed a new adventure. The local bike club holds a century ride each September. This seemed like a big enough adventure, so I put down my cash and signed up for the full 104 miles. I knew I could cover 50 or 60 miles on the bike, but I’d never been much further. This would definitely be new territory for me, but I looked forward to the challenge. My brother-in-law, AB, also planned to do the full ride. We agreed to stay together for the entirety. The ride started out with 200+ riders. We made the mistake of starting out at the front of the group. We rode too fast during the first part of the ride and skipped the first aid station, which was at mile 15 or 20. The next aid station would be about the same distance away. By the time we reached the next aid station, I'd begun to tire a bit and knew I'd pushed too hard, but was ok. We rested for about 15 minutes. We drank, ate and reloaded our water bottles. We continued on to the next aid station. We began to encounter a few rolling hills and the temperature had begun to rise which made the going a bit tough, but we soldiered on and made it to the next aid station. We were now at the half way point. We rested a bit longer at this aid station and fueled up once more. It was now hot, but the terrain had leveled out somewhat. We both began to experience leg discomfort and some cramping on this portion of the ride. We stopped a couple of times to stretch and work out the kinks. We made it to the next aid station and were ready for a rest. After about 30 minutes at the aid station, we continued. We found comfort in the fact that we only had about 30 miles to go. A few miles into this section of the ride, AB dropped a rag which wrapped itself around the rear cog of his bike and broke the derailleur hanger. Neither of us could believe it. A support vehicle soon arrived. AB had no choice but to end his ride, but I decided to continue on alone. I rode at an effort that was too intense and arrived at the next aid station feeling fairly rough. Luckily DJ and KJ were working at this aid station and seeing them lifted my spirits enough to continue on. The last 15 miles were very tough riding for me, but I finished and was glad it was over. For the first time ever, I was sick of riding my bike.

The next adventure was to return to the 5k that had started it all. I had been running well and hoped to better my time by a couple of minutes. I lined up feeling good. I gave it all I had during the entire race and crossed the finish line totally spent. I'd improved my time by nearly three minutes, 21:53. My time was good enough for 3rd place in my age group, earning me my first medal.

Next up was another local 5k a few weeks later. I had continued to train and was feeling as strong as ever. I crossed the finish line in this race in 20:56, almost a full minute faster than the last 5k. This time I earned second place in my age group and couldn’t have been more satisfied. My only regret was that DJ and KJ couldn’t be there with me.

The next race would be one that would remain one of the most special events I’d probably ever do. KJ decided she wanted to run a race with me. We found a local 5k race and signed up. We began training slowly. Just weeks before the race, KJ covered 3 miles non-stop for the first time, not bad for a seven year old. Race day came and KJ was excited and nervous. We started the race on a very cold December morning. Soon the crowd of runners had moved far ahead, but we had a good time running together at the back of the pack. We would walk several times, but finished and had a great time. It was awesome watching KJ cross the finish line of her first race.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

My Back!!! and The Race

A few weeks after completing the half marathon, I was involved in a bike crash while out on a training ride with a group of triathletes. We went down pretty hard, leaving me with some major road rash, a banged up but repariable bike, and some general soreness. One of the other guys ended up with a broken collar bone. I felt really bad for him since his season was pretty much over. I began to resume full training a few weeks after the crash. Then one morning while getting ready for work, I bent down to pick something up from the floor and had an excruciating pain in my lower back. I had experienced this pain in the past from time to time, but nothing approaching this severity. I hit the floor in agony. The pain was so bad I could not breathe. Huge beads of sweat began to cover my head. DJ came running into the room and thought I was having a heart attack. I was barely able to get out the words to let her know what was happening. After 15 or so minutes, I was able to crawl to the couch where I sat in agonizing pain. DJ called the doctor and they were able to get us in immediately. The diagnosis, a herniated disc. The treatment, no running for six weeks, physical therapy for six weeks, chiropractic adjustments, and mechanical disc manipulation. I was disappointed that I’d miss so much training, but I was happy I'd be able to eventually resume training.
Over the next six weeks, I did lots of swimming and a good amount of biking. I completed every therapy session and followed doc’s advice. After six weeks of treatment, I was given the green light to slowly resume running. I began running 1 very slow mile at a time and increased from there. In a matter of weeks, I was back at a respectable level of running. I continued training for the upcoming triathlon and continued to progress in each discipline.

Race time finally rolled around. I arrived at the race early, signed in, received my race pack and readied my transition area. I made my way down to the lake for the start of the swim. As I looked around, I could hardly believe it had been a year since I’d stood on the dock as a spectator. The dock where DJ and KJ now stood to watch me begin a race I’d been preparing for and thinking about for almost a year. Suddenly it was 1 minute to start. The gun went off and I was in the middle of a churning, splashing, mass of hysteria. After the first turn of the swim, the crowd thinned and the going got a little better. I finished the swim and was amazed with my time, it was two minutes faster than I’d expected. On to T1 and out on the bike. The bike went by in no time and once again, I did better than I’d expected. Through T2 and out on the run. I pushed the entire run and hit my time goal for the run. As I neared the finish line, I heard my name being announced over the PA. I pushed through the final yards and crossed the finish line in just over one hour and twelve minutes, good enough for 4th place in my age group. I received my finisher’s medal and felt like I’d just conquered Mt. Everest.

The Bike and The Half Marathon

I continued to run and continued my non-drowning/swim sessions. After a few weeks, I began to become more proficient in the pool and could complete several laps before having to stop to catch my breath.
It was November of 2004 and I had one more piece of the triathlon puzzle to add, a bike. I'd returned to the local bike shop a few times since my initial visit and I'd decided on a bike which was within my budget. The bike shop did not have my size in this particular bike and had to order it. A few weeks later, the bike arrived. Adjustments were made to the bike to fit my measurements. I picked out a helmet and shorts and all of the other stuff I needed. About an hour after arriving, I pushed my bike out the door of the bike shop. My wallet was lighter, but I now had all the pieces I'd need to train for the triathlon.
That first ride was awesome. I only traveled about six miles, but enjoyed every one. I continued riding 3 times each week and was covering 40 to 50 miles per week in no time. I soon had clipless pedals installed on my bike. This presented a new skill for me to learn, but I was up for the challenge. The mechanic at the bike shop told me, “It’s not a matter of if you’ll fall, but when you’ll fall while learning to use clipless pedals”. Not me I thought. This’ll be a piece of cake. Wrong! I drove to the place from which I started my rides. I parked and unloaded my bike, attached the front wheel, put on my new bike shoes and mounted the bike. While holding onto my vehicle, I clipped-in, then let go to begin riding. I failed to give myself enough of a push-off, and though I tried, I could not stop the bike from falling over. I assured the other person nearby that I was ok. It took me a few moments to extract myself from the bike, but I finally freed myself and was ready to try again. This time, I gave a healthy push and was able to begin without tumbling. I was soon accustomed the new pedals.

It was now early Spring of 2005 and I had decided to compete in my first half marathon. I’d been increasing my run mileage and felt good about being able to “finish” the event. I began the event hoping to finish in under two hours. I finished in 1:59:33, however, I later found out the course had been changed at the last minute, adding four tenths of a mile to the course. Nevertheless, I accomplished my goal and had a great time in the process. Next up was the sprint triathlon. The race was in August, so I’d have ample time to get ready for the race.

5K and Not Drowning

I'd been running for several months and was enjoying the return to running immensely. I never knew I could derive so much enjoyment from such a simple activity. I continued to learn as much as possible about running. While browsing the internet for running information, I discovered a local 5k road race. It was July of 2004 and the race was to take place in October. I decided to enter the race and mailed in my entry form. I found a training plan that seemed reasonable and began training for the race.

While educating myself about running and endurance training, I continually came across information dealing with triathlon. I knew very little about triathlon, but was strangely intrigued by the idea of someday completing one. I'd seen the Hawaii Ironman on television, but my knowledge of triathlon didn't go much further. I hadn't ridden a bike in 25 or so years, and swam only a handful of times each year on vacation. I'd heard about a local triathlon that was to take place around this time and decided to attend the triathlon as a spectator to see what it was all about.

I arrived at the triathlon only minutes before the gun was to go off. I was amazed by the excitement of all the colorfully crowned athletes waiting to start their races. The gun went off and the excitement was converted to action. I took it all in and was so fired up by the whole experience that I decided I'd compete in the race the following year. I went that day and began shopping for a bike. I was dazed by all the "stuff" I'd need to be able to ride a bike, other than the bike itself; helmet, shoes, pedals, gloves, shorts, jersey, water bottles, tubes, tools, and on and on. Wow that's a lot of $$$. I decided to mull it over a bit.

While mulling, I to joined the local YMCA and began my swim training. Swimming, a simple act. Just hop in the water and go. A piece of cake. Right? WRONG!!!
I dug out my favorite faded swim trunks I'd had for the last 10 vacations and headed out for the pool. I'd done my homework this time and read up on proper swim technique. I arrived at the Y, put on my trunks and made my way to the pool deck. I descended into the pool and pushed off for my first swim session. About 10 yards into the first length, I realized swimming was not going to be as easy as I'd thought. I was experiencing difficulty in acquiring enough oxygen to supply the demands of my muscles without sucking all the water out of the pool in the process. At about the 20 yard point, those same muscles were burning and I hoped I'd be able to make it the final 5 yards to the wall without drowning. I grabbed the wall and held on while I caught my breath. I turned and looked at the distance I'd just covered and wondered if I'd be able to make it back. All the while, a 70-something year old was cruising from one end of the pool to the other with the ease of a dolphin playing in the ocean. I began to wonder if maybe I was aquatically challenged. Finally, I regained my breath and pushed off for another length. I struggled through that and two more lengths and called it a day. Two laps and I was exhausted. I realized I had much work to do in the pool.

The start of the 5k race was drawing near. Race day arrived and I was ready. My wife, DJ, and daughter, KJ, came along with me and were excited and ready to cheer for Dad. I'd never seen so many people in running shoes at one time. The race began and the huddled mass began to move forward. Soon the crowd began to thin out and I was surprised to find myself passing other runners. I continued to pass runners as I went along. At about the 2 mile point, I was no longer passing others and began to feel as though my lungs were on fire. I slowed a bit in an attempt to regain some of my spent energy. A half mile later, a runner I'd passed came up along side me and soon passed. I fell in behind the other runner, determined to stay with him. We rounded the final corner and I was only a few yards behind him. The finish line came into view and I gave it all I had. I passed the runner I'd been trailing, and two others, before reaching the finish line. I found DJ and KJ and we celebrated at the finish line. I had hoped to complete the race in under 27 minutes, but as I looked at my finishing time of 24:27, I couldn't believe it. I didn't win any medals that day, but I had a ton of fun, and found a group of other nuts that didn't seem to think it was too awfully nutty to run for fun...even without something chasing after them.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

The Adventure Begins

The madness/adventure started with a visit to the doctor. Oddly enough, many adventures end with a visit to the doctor. But this one was brought into existence because of a visit to the doctor. It was the Spring of 2002 and I had celebrated my 32nd birthday a few months earlier. I decided it was time for a check-up at the doc. It'd only been about 20 years since the last check-up. I made the call, scheduled the appointment and arrived with my trusty insurance card in hand. Blood was drawn, fluids were sampled, X-rays were taken and tests were performed for which I knew no need. But I placed my trust in the good doctor and went along through each process as though I knew what was going on. I left feeling overwhelmed, and slightly violated. A few days passed and I received a phone call revealing the results of all the tests. The verdict: "Everything looks fine", says doc," except (my heart began to beat a little faster), your cholesterol is very high for someone of your age and build. You should start on a low fat diet and begin an exercise program. Come back in a few months and we'll check it again", he says. And with that I began my adventure.
Having a family history of health issues, I was determined to make the necessary changes to improve my health. I eliminated all fried foods, beef, most dairy, and anything else that tasted good. I dusted off my old tennis shoes and began walking daily. Though my diet was unexciting to say the least, I felt good about the changes I'd made. Weeks passed and I stuck to the program. Then I decided I would give running a try. With zero fanfare, I began an activity that I would grow to enjoy more than I ever thought possible...though it would take some time for that enjoyment to fully develop.
Months passed and I grew tired of living on baked everything. I also began to become board with running the same three miles over and over. I began to fudge on my diet and skip runs. Before I knew it, I'd fallen off the wagon and was back eating whatever I wanted and spending most of my time on the couch.
Many months pass and I decided to give it another go. This time around, I decided to take a different approach and educate myself a bit. I learned that it is best to make incremental changes to my diet rather than trying to do it all in one fatal blow. I learned that my earlier attempt at running was doomed from the beginning. I had taken the wrong approach before, giving a near maximum effort during each run. I began to research training programs on the internet. I learned as much about running as I could. I got myself a proper pair of running shoes. I bought myself a heart rate monitor and learned to use it. I found out what running slow really means. I made small changes in my diet. I enjoyed the adventure this time around and felt great.

to be continued.....