It’s January 9th and I have been trying to provide a base now since November 6th. I think I am doing pretty well. I couldn’t swim 600 yards without changing up strokes from freestyle to sidestroke, to breaststroke. Now I can go about 800 yards with strictly freestyle..at least in a pool. Yesterday, January 8th 2011, I ran the Disney Half-Marathon without stopping in 1:59:32. It is not great, but not that this is an excuse, but it was extremely crowded and I was in the very back of the pack. Last week I cycled 40 miles, with a 5K run at the end. I think as far as my endurance factor goes I am a little a head of the game.
Just to give the story as to why. People think I am nuts…why train for an event where you swim 2.4 miles, Bike 112 miles and then run a marathon? It started two years ago. I had been working my ass off 12 -15 hour days including weekends. I was feeling drained and I was due for a physical with a complete blood workup. Dr. Gold basically said I was in horrible shape. My cholesterol was high, my triglycerides were high, my good cholesterol was low, my sugar was high…I am sure the picture was obvious. This was only 3 years after separating for the second time from the military. I couldn’t believe I let myself get so out of shape.
Kim and I were walking around Hyde Park Village about three weeks later and we walked past Lifestyles Family Fitness. There was a poster in the window for a Boot Camp Class. We went in and contracted to use the gym, I enrolled in Boot Camp and Kim hired a personal trainer to get her started again. Well, from the first class I was hooked. They had these teasers prior to the beginning of the real class and it was an intense 35 minutes of cardio, strength training, agility, stability and core exercises. I loved it, coming from a military background where this is what we did everyday. The difference was the emphasis on form and injury reduction. Well, the instructors, Nicole Sturtze, and Zach Thompson were a hell of lot nicer than my drill sergeants. Two days a week for an hour I put 100% effort and sweat-ed profuciously and loved it. One Monday morning, my eyes popped open at 5:30am and I was wide awake. I thought, eh why not go for a run. I ran for four miles and felt like a million dollars. The next day after boot camp I saw a flyer for another class called Punch & Crunch, and thought, eh why not give it a try. Melissa Trinidad was teaching, and I knew she was one of the top trainers at the gym, not to mention she was really cute. Again, I was hooked after the first class. Boxing paired with cardio and core was awesome. Within a month of starting to work out twice a week, I had now more than doubled my workouts to 5 days a week. Monday, I ran or worked out on my own, Tuesday & Thursday was Boot Camp, Wednesday and Saturday was Punch & Crunch, Friday and Sunday I took off. Next, a friend in Boot Camp told me about this Hot Yoga down the street from the gym. I never sweated so much in my life and felt so rejuvenated afterward. Now I was at 6 days a week.
Next came the game changer – Scott Bragan, another Boot Camp friend, started mentioning the Chicago Marathon and how he was doing it for charity. The PKD foundation. Perocystic Kidney Disease. His mother-in-law had a transplant, his wife was diagnosed with it, and his daughter had a 50/50 chance of coming down with it because she carried the gene. My need to help kicked in, so I decided to talk to him about it, and before I knew it we had 10 members of Team Tampa PKD and were starting a plan to fund raise to a goal of $25,000!! With that we also trained together. Two six week sessions of boot camp, combined with Punch & Crunch, and Yoga allowed my first training run, to be 9 miles. I couldn’t believe I was starting to train for a marathon and I could already comfortably run 9 miles. I was jazzed.
Well, Scott also mentioned another activity he did…Triathlons. I had partaken in a couple of triathlons in high school and I enjoyed them, so I thought, what a great way to break up the training for the marathon by swimming and biking and participating in a couple of sprint triathlons as well. I ended up participating in two that summer, the Mease Plant Point and the Top Gun and loved them…well…except for the swim. I just wanted to get that over with.
We did end up raising the 25000 bucks and then some and everyone finished the marathon with decent times, except for me. I ended up injuring myself two weeks before with a herniated disc at L5/S1 and was in recovery during the marathon. I did go to Chicago that weekend and I did take some great pics, and cheer on my team, but I was really bummed. That was October 2009.
Since then I have been in a few more small races, 5Ks and 10Ks, a couple of half-marathons, three more triathlons and have continued to train. I have not missed a boot camp session since then and I feel I am pretty good shape. Last November a friend from a running group I have been running with, the Blue Sharks, told me she did a couple of Full Ironman Triathlons. I was really impressed. She then mentioned she was going to volunteer at the Florida Ironman and asked if I wanted to go. I thought it would be really cool to see all these elite athletes do this incredible event. I went and had an awesome time and got hooked. I was in the transition tent from the Bike to the Run and the Pro-athletes came in and they were systematic and quick. Then the age-groupers came in and some of them were the same as the pros and some of them just took there time, had a break and then continued on to the run. I was enthralled at the amount of people, and all the types of people that were going through this event. Of course the next part is what really hooked me. About 9pm we all decided to hang out at the finish line. Let me preface this by saying the race started at 7 am, so this was 14 hours after the start of the race…Four…teen…..hours! Teresa (the culprit who hooked me into this) said this was the best part of the race because this is the “regular” people finished. The people who had regular jobs, kids, responsibilities that had to fit all this training in apart from that. Coming over the finish line were women and men in excess of 280 pounds, a blind man, a disabled man, men and women in excess of 60 years old, and my favorite a 16 time age grouper that was 76. Yes, that’s right SEVENTY-SIX years old and he came over the finish line before the cut-off of 17 hours. There are those people like myself who do not look there age. There are seventy-six year olds out there whom look fifty or even 60. No…this guy looked the all of seventy-six he was. This is what got me hooked…if they could do it…I definitely could do it.
I have to mention that I really do not want to be racing for 17 hours. If I finish it in 16 hours, 59 minutes and 59 seconds…I will be happy that I completed it, but I really do not want to be racing for that long. I found a guy Ben Greenfield who is an awesome athlete and a very knowledgeable athlete whom has developed a plan to get average joes like me through the Ironman with an acceptable amount of training hours that might not completely infringe on my responsibilities. I also have met with a swim coach, my doctor, my chiropractor and a license massage therapist whom is also a bio-mechanics expert and a USAT Level 1 certified trainer. With all this support, I hope to conquer this quest.
At the moment I am doing my own base training right now, with an emphasis on getting comfortable in the saddle of my bike, and becoming relaxed and efficient in the water. Ben’s plan is a 36 week plan, so it does not actually start until the last week in February. I have increased my weekday workouts from an hour to two in order to get my body used to working hard longer, and continue to do boot camp.
Here is to hoping my plan works out, and no injuries or re-injuries will stop me.
Live Strong, Finish Stronger!!!