by Brad Minus | Nov 14, 2013 |
There are a number of you that call me “crazy” for continuing to do Ironman Triathlons and keeping the training schedule I do during the season. At least it is the inspiring kind of “crazy” right? I enjoy training and obtaining results as a part of it, not to mention just maintaining my fitness level. There is one person out there that I call “crazy” in the inspiring kind of way. He puts all of my 100 mile bike rides, two-a-day workouts and mega brick training workouts to shame. He makes me look like a couch potato and he is more inspiring and motivating that any person I know. Let me introduce a guy who continues to motivate, inspire and just plain amazes me; Matthew “IronBeast” Dolitsky.
Imagine if you will, a 9 mile obstacle course, that includes swimming in cold water, then a rope climb over a wall to exit the lake. Imagine again doing this is in 30-40 degree temperatures. Of course that is only one obstacle there are 29 others as well. Now imagine doing that course as many times in 24 hours as possible. Does that sound crazy to you? This is “The World’s Toughest Mudder“(WTM), and Matt will be competing in that this coming weekend. What makes it even more amazing, is that he is competing in it for the second time!
Matt claims he is average, and when I was talking to him about doing this blog he said, and I quote, “I’m just an average dude too just an above average pain tolerance and insane determination!” All I can say is “Yeah, right!”
What does it take to compete in adventure obstacle challenges like this? Let me give you an example. I caught Matt training one day on Swann Drive flipping a huge tire for a mile. Does that sound crazy? How about a 75 mile bike ride on a mountain bike that didn’t start until 10pm? How about a 3 mile swim around Harbor Island here in Tampa? Matt incorporates these workouts as training on a regular basis and I think these are his easy workouts. During the Gasparilla Half Marathon I did, pass Matt, but there was a huge difference. I wasn’t carrying a tire on my half marathon, but Matt was.
Matt also inspires others constantly, and to a point where he is bringing a few people to the World’s Toughest Mudder with him.
Matt and I met at Fit2Run while I was coaching there. We were on a run together and I helped him (I think) relax a little on his run. This was at the very beginning of his journey into ultra obstacle racing. From there he was like a rocket ship. Last year, I received a message from him on FaceBook asking me if there was an Ironman he could get into. I laughed a little and told him after WTM and the Spartan Death Race, Ironman wouldn’t even challenge him, but I told him about Louisville. He set his sites on it and wouldn’t you know it, he completed it as expected. Needless to say Matt inspires me and a bunch of others every day.
Enough of my soap box about Matt. Let’s let him talk for a bit.
Age / Sign: 43 Years old, Gemini
Location: Tampa, FL
Place growing up: Long Island, NY
High School: Half Hollow Hills HS West
High School sports: Lacrosse & Hockey
College: University of South Florida
Other Sports: Adventure Obstacle Racing, Triathlon
List your favorite races:
Spartan Ultra Beast Marathon
World’s Toughest Mudder
I refer to you as not just a beast but an UltraIronBeast, because of the challenges you compete in. What made you start doing these Ultra-Mud-Obstacle challenges?
I stumbled upon my first obstacle race about 2 years ago. It was a basic 3 mile mud race but after finishing the race, I felt invigorated with a sense of accomplishment. Shortly thereafter, I “Finished” Tough Mudder and my passion for obstacle races and extreme challenges was born.
Now that you have competed in both mega Obstacles Races like the World’s Toughest Mudder and Ironman, how do you compare the two?
Comparing World’s Toughest Mudder or even the Death Race to IRONMAN is very difficult. The bottom line with any of the three is that simply making the commitment to get to the start line is scary enough and takes great fortitude! Once you make it to the start line, reality sets in and you now have to endure everything thrown at you or face a DNF. A 140.6 mile IRONMAN triathlon is never comfortable but there is comfort in knowing exactly what you are getting into. It’s a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, and 26.2 mile run. Barring variations in terrain and weather conditions, it’s pretty straight forward. Long and hard but straight forward. World’s Toughest Mudder and the Death Race are totally different beasts. They do not tell you what you will be doing PERIOD! Sure, you have an idea from previous races and intelligence gathering but you better get yourself comfortable with being uncomfortable really quickly and embrace every miserable moment of it. World’s Toughest Mudder in New Jersey is 24-26 hours of running a Tough Mudder course on steroids braving miserable cold temperatures while running in layers of neoprene. The Death Race was 70 hours of hiking gnarly terrain in the mountains of Pittsfield, Vermont while building stone stair cases up the mountain, doing countless burpees, chopping wood, endless manual labor, running, carrying 50+ lb. packs of supplies, etc. while not sleeping for 3 days! With all that being said, the one thing that all three races require is mental grit because everyone of them will expose your weaknesses and tell you to quit at some point. If you have the mental element coupled with proper training, your body will do whatever the mind tells it to do!
If you could give me one adjective to describe the feeling you get when you are working what would it be?
One word to describe how I feel when working out or training is HAPPY. Training makes me feel healthy and alive and that equals HAPPINESS. I love being outdoors. When I’m outdoors training, I’m in my element and the result is overall HAPPINESS. It makes any negative thought that creeps into my mind disappear.
What is going through you mind while you are competing during a course like the Spartan Death Race or WTM?
While I’m competing in races like World’s Toughest Mudder and the Death Race, I focus on micro movements while thinking of the race as a whole. If I take my mind off my next foothold or hand placement, I could get hurt. I must be focused on every series of movements the entire way through! I have to become like a machine and keep performing consistently, safely, efficiently, and patiently. I repeat this for the duration of the race until I am finished!
You have children that I know you love and adore. For all of the parents out there, how do you balance the amount of training you do with work and family?
Balancing kids, work, and training can be challenging. Essentially, I balance my training around work and kids. Sometimes I’m up early in the morning to train and other times I’m up late at night training. It’s not uncommon for me to finish training at 2am. It’s about committing to my goals! Reaching goals and finishing races happens long before race day. It’s about putting in the hard work and hours of training. My races are unorthodox and so is my training. I always try to train in conditions worse than I’ll experience on race day. This way, conditions for me will always seem ideal! I often take advantage of blocks of time I have available to train. I’m very spontaneous and flexible.
What would you say is your greatest personal obstacle you ever overcame?
Everyday, I overcoming the greatest obstacle there is. Life. I’m trying to keep life as simple as I can make it. Living each day as it comes. Trying to be happy, make a positive impact, motivate and inspire others, and be a loving father to my two boys. I’m surrounding myself with positive people in the racing community, gaining some awesome sponsorships, and accomplishing things I never thought possible. I’m also learning from some mistakes along the way.
What is your greatest victory?
While crossing the finish line at IRONMAN Louisville was pretty amazing, living a life of happiness will be my biggest victory. Something I’m trying to achieve everyday.
What are your future goal races?
Double Anvil IRONMAN, Fuego y Agua Survival Run in Nicaragua, Bill Floyds 8 mile swim from Clearwater to Tampa
What are you favorite quotes?
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do, so throw off the bowlines, sail away from safe harbor, catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore, Dream, Discover.” -Mark Twain
by Brad Minus | Oct 23, 2012 |
I mentioned yesterday I am planning on having a regular column called Tribute Tuesday where I will select someone in my life who has had a positive influence on me in some way or another. Most of the time these people will have coached to increase my athletic prowess (which is actually pretty easy), challenge me intellectually (which isn’t really all that hard either), and/or inspire me to be a better human being. My first Tribute Tuesday subject has done all three. With no further ado I would like to introduce my coach, and friend; Amy Eck.
This is a kind of crazy picture of her, but it does really give the best possible introduction to her personality. She is a wild, and free spirit with the most positive outlook on life I have ever known in a human being. She refuses to believe there are limits to anyone’s potential, including her own. Just to give you an idea, this woman has competed in the Kona Ironman World Championships, the World Xterra World Championships, numerous ultra running and mountain biking events, and was a competitive wrestler in high school and college (yes I said wrestler). I credit her incredible coaching to my 47 minute reduction in time for my PR at Ironman Augusta 70.3. There is nothing Amy cannot do and her energy is uber-contagious. She gets so excited when she is able to help and/or see someone succeeding that she turns bright red. I cannot believe she doesn’t get muscle cramps in her cheeks.
Now she and her husband Erik are training for her biggest event ever, the birth of their first child. As you can see her pregnancy hasn’t taken an ounce of her positive energy away. She continues to enjoy life and even with all that drag she still beats both me and her husband in the pool. Obviously she doesn’t let anything conquer her competitive side. She was brought here to Florida due to Erik’s mobilization as a Reserve Navy Officer to CENTCOM, so the only negative thing I can possibly say about Amy is that she will be leaving to return to her home and coaching practice in Hawaii. (It was impossible to find a photo of her where she looks “normal”. In most of the pictures she is either in a superhero costume or in race clothes, but it’s…well…it’s Amy)
Now when I said that she has also inspired me to be a better person, she does this by example. This is a woman whom rode a mountain bike for 10 days through Peru to do missionary work, and she did it for her honeymoon! Talk about combining all her loves; Erik, mountain biking, helping others and God. The stories she tells of that trip are absolutely amazing.
I had a chance to ask my friend some questions that I thought might give some insight to one of my most favorite people in the world, and here is what she had to say;
Name: Amy Ruth Eck (Bennett)
DOB: 5 March 1978, Pisces
POB: Royal Oak, Michigan (Ford Baby)
Grew up in: Arlington, Texas
High School: Arlington High School
High School Activities: Cheerleading, Wrestling, Cross Country, Track, Soccer, FFA, JROTC
College: United States Merchant Marine Academy
College Sports: Cheerleading, Wrestling, Cross Country, Sailing
When and why did you start competing in triathlon?
(I) Started triathlon in Hawaii with the motivation of my knee surgeon Dr. Bottoni who thought it would be better than straight running and my crazy friend Marcy Fleming. Went to watch the XTERRA World Championships and loved the LIVE MORE and family atmosphere of XTERRA. Came home and bought a mountain bike! Within a year I was racing the Hawaii 70.3 and the XTERRA World Championships.
What is one thing you love most about triathlon?
I love the people! Triathlon is all about challenging your body with a group of friends around the beautiful playground of earth.
I know that you run an Xterra Race in Hawaii – How did that start?
Erik and I had wanted to do something fun for the community that challenged people to get outside. We also wanted to launch an event that would give us a way to raise money for charity. In 2009 we started Freedom Fest as part of our wedding weekend. 10k run, 20k mountain bike, off-road triathlon and then get married…it was awesome!
The race has now grown to become an XTERRA World Championship qualifier with 500 people from 8 countries and 24 states. Come join us! www.xterrafreedomfest.com
Do you enjoy Xterra more than road traithlon? Why?
XTERRA does a great job of making every race challenging and fun. Off-road racing works you anaerobically and provides an adrenal rush that I am addicted to. I do enjoy mountain biking more than I enjoy road racing, but I am probably better at road racing. You have to spend a lot of time in the saddle on the road to get the proper base training for off-road. I think the major attraction of the off-road is you get to explore! You are away from cars, out in nature, and get a real chance to connect. It is also something my husband can do together!
What was your favorite race and why?
Favorite race…that is hard. Favorite marathon would be Boston, favorite on-road triathlon would be Wildflower, favorite Ironman would be Kona, favorite trail run would be our XTERRA Freedom Fest race, favorite off-road triathlon would be the old XTERRA Worlds course in Makena, favorite 100-miler would be Leadville, and favorite stage race would be La Ruta. A great race is determined by the terrain, the people it attracts, and the after party!
Congrats on the baby! I know you are waiting for the surprise of the sex but do you have any names for either that are in your head?
We have some names…possibly Bennett after my family or Hudson Taylor after my childhood hero. But we will have to see what the lil hero looks like when they come out!
Do you plan on continuing in Xterra or Triathlon after the baby?
Yes, I would love to get back to racing. I am signed up for the Frogman 5k Swim in JAN and the Princess Half in FEB. Will likely race Hawaii 70.3 and the XTERRA Mountain Man in hopes to travel to the World Championships. As a mom I have a new career path but I think having my child seeing me (compete) in sports is important. They need to know the importance of investing in yourself and in investing in others.
Do you plan on bringing your child up around the sport?
YES! As a USAT, USATF, and Newton Coach I think sports are great for children. They teach sportsmanship, discipline, commitment, failure, success, and they develop your mind, muscle, and soul. Watch out for lil Eck in the 2032 Summer Olympics!
As your friend and client I always describe you as the most positive free spirit I have ever met willing to go out of her way to help people. How did you end up with this wonderful way of life without falling to the negativity of the world? Thank you Brad, I love people! I grew up in a wonderful Christian home where we were always helping people and it was contagious. I feel I have been very blessed and there is nothing better than to pass those blessing on to others. My favorite Proverb says, Do not withhold good from those who deserve it when it is within your power to act. Basically I have one life to live, one life to give. I take the responsibility to heart and try to share JOY with others in everything!
What is your favorite motivational quote?
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
~ Mark Twain
“And in the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.”
~ Abraham Lincoln
Is it possible to not love this woman? I think not.
(Amy’s coaches virtually as well using email, telephone and Training Peaks software. You can find more information at www.campbennett.com