6 Tips For Quality Run Training

6 Tips For Quality Run Training

Tips for Quality Run Training Train no faster than one pace quicker than the race you are training for. For example, 5k pace is good for an Olympic-distance race, while half-marathon pace suffices...

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Tribute Thursday – Matt “IronBeast” Dolitsky

Tribute Thursday – Matt “IronBeast” Dolitsky

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.

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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!”

1424405_10201620700913850_138323445_nWhat 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.

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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.

Name: Matthew Dolitsky892243_553937851317850_1895750352_o
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:
Ironman Louisville
Spartan Ultra Beast Marathon
World’s Toughest Mudder
Death Race
391515_363883563679774_1770674260_nI 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 1010696_585362928153605_187298322_nget 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 1150844_10201030414997071_604802185_nbalance 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.
1174834_10201136756895552_238071442_nWhat 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  
Shout outs from Matt “UltraIronBeast” Dolitstky : His sponsors VPX Team Xtreme OCR, Reload Fitness, Mud and Adventure, and AL1VE Magnetics.
Matt is pretty inspiring right?  Check him out on FaceBook at Facebook.com/matthew.dolitsky

Carpe Viam!

Ironman Florida – Race Recap

Ironman Florida – Race Recap

For a long time, it has been called the Granddaddy of all endurance events, the Ironman triathlon. A 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike and a 26.2-mile run done consecutively in the same day. Of course, nowadays, double, triple, and even deca Ironman distance triathlons are becoming more and more popular, as well as 24, 48 and even 72-hour mud and obstacle run challenges. If you are calling me crazy for doing my second Ironman, I can introduce you to at least a few people who do challenges that make Ironman look like a game of hopscotch. (Yes, Matt “UltraIronBeast” Dolitsky, you are one of those.)

This competition for me was a learning experience in overcoming obstacles, most of them mental. I did not PR, or even come close, but I now understand completely the quote, “The mind will quite 100 times before the body does.”

Pre-Race

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Pete Amedure, Kari Eichen, Kat Ward, Jamie Breibart and myself all decided to drive up Wednesday morning in order to get acclimated to the environment and eliminate and reasons for not being prepared for Saturday’s race.  Pete, Kari and I were in my car and had a great time on the way up.  Of course, there was a stop at the Huddle House in Perry Florida where we ate and laughed to a point where I spaced out and left my phone, and didn’t realize it until we were half-an-hour from Panama City Beach.  It didn’t help that I was in the middle of contracts and had all my recruiters contacting me about interviews and new opportunities.   (I ended up remedying this by sending FedEx to the restaurant and delivering it to our hotel.  In the meantime, Google Voice was a tremendous help.)

We arrived at the Laketown Wharf complex where we stayed in a luxurious three bedroom, three bath condominium, with a beautiful view of the gulf.  I give this hotel/condo complex four stars.  It had everything needed including a nightly water and light show that rivals the Bellagio in Las Vegas.  Well, not really, but it was a fun amenity.  The condos all have a full kitchen, with dishes, glasses, silverware, pots and pans, coffee maker, and a full-size refrigerator.  Everything needed for the athlete, and spectathletes, to remove all those pressures of nutrition, and early morning breakfasts.  The area also has plenty of great restaurants for good eating as well.

Afterward, we walked the quarter mile to athlete check-in to receive our chip, bibs, bags, and swag.  I was a little disappointed in the swag this year.  Last year they gave out beautiful TYR transition backpacks, but this year it was a very inferior white backpack that looks like it will fall apart.  Jamie’s actually did, so they gave her a replacement immediately.  The expo was about twice the size that it was last year, with a host of new vendors.  Verizon was displaying their goods, as they were the tracking sponsor this year, along with Newton, Fit2Run, a local bike shop and a bunch of the regulars.  Refuel was there, talking about Chocolate Milk, so I did create a video with them talking about the benefits of it.  I will share that link on Twitter when I receive it.  It should be good for a couple of laughs.

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After that, we spent the next couple of days, taking in the aura of Ironman, preparing and eating.  Eating was a non-stop event for us.  I knew from experience that immense calories were going to be needed in order to be comfortable on the course, so I encouraged our team to keep eating as I did myself.

_MG_2276Thursday night was the athlete welcome dinner, and I was almost embarrassed.  My recollection of the 2011 athlete dinner was so wonderful, that I really talked it up and encouraged Pete, Jamie, and Kari to come.  Jamie decided not to go, but I was so excited for Pete and Kari to be there I couldn’t contain my emotions.  Unfortunately, I was sort of let down.  It seemed unorganized and hurried.  Yes, my favorite pro-triathlete and world champion Mirinda Carfrae was interviewed on stage, so that was great, but the rest of it was about charities and a couple of athletes overcoming their own obstacles.  There were video presentations about a woman who was competing for her husband who died the year earlier while training, and a quadriplegic who was competing to show the world that anyone could do anything if they just challenged themselves.

1394432_10102251072868771_978366175_nYes, their stories were inspiring but I just felt like it was too much and way too long.  In 2011 the presentations were balanced between the negative and the positive inspiring stories and we even had an athlete briefing by the race director all in the span of 90 minutes.  It held the attention of every athlete to a point where the announcer almost didn’t need the microphone.  This time, a good portion of the athletes conversed right through all the presentations to a point where it was hard to hear the MC with a microphone.  I felt like I let my friend Pete down to a point where I was apologizing so much on the walk back I became annoying.  Sorry, Pete and Kari.

_MG_2265Friday, the anxiety hit like a ton of bricks.  You couldn’t cut the tension in the condo with a Ginsu, serrated edge knife.  We ate breakfast and then headed down to the beach to get in the water with our wetsuits.  The waves sets were barreling to the shore with such force that the red, “no-swimming”, flag was flown, but we knew we needed to at least get in the water for a few minutes just to test out our goggles and our wetsuits.  Surprising enough, even with the force of the waves, I thought I became a little more confident.  I was able to stay on the surface of the water, and I practiced duck diving through the waves instead of trying to swim over them.  I really thought I may have a chance of being faster out of the water than I thought.

Afterward, we talked through our transition plans to double check our gear, 1383330801836checked to make sure our bikes were ready to go and proceeded to transition to check-in everything.  We had decided to try and wait out the rain, but unfortunately, I had a phone interview which had the chance of exceeding beyond the time check-in would close, so we walked down in the rain.  The line was so long, I was going to be cutting it very close, so afterward, I ran back to the hotel.  On the way back, I dropped my phone and cracked the screen.  Yes, I had the phone back in my hands all of two hours and I dropped it.  I have never broken a phone before,  ever,  and here I had two phone interviews and I cracked the screen.  I was lucky enough that the phone still worked with voice recognition and a little effort, so the two interviews scheduled went off without any problems and I confirmed them both for second interviews as well.

That night we had a good dinner at the Wicked Wheel and we were all in bed around 9 pm ready to take on the Ironman.

Race Day

As predicted, the night before was restless but I did end up sleeping a good 4-5 hours before the alarm went off.  As planned we dressed in sweats, grabbed our “Special Needs” bags,  nutrition for the bike, and headed to transition around 4:30 am.  We were body marked, checked our bikes, dropped our bags, and then headed back to try and leisurely eat breakfast, and dress for the race.  Kari cooked eggs and turkey bacon, I cooked oatmeal and we all hung out for a while and tried to prepare ourselves with our loved ones.  It was kind of surreal.  I remembered these moments from the first time I competed in this race, but it still seemed like it was all new again.

We dressed, pulled on our wetsuits halfway, hugged and headed for the start line.  We walked 1393113_10202369776593562_1301605987_nwith Kari, Kim, and Danny down to the start, but athletes had to enter separately than spectators, so when we finally hit the beach we couldn’t find them.  I really wanted to see them all before the start, but I knew I would be ok if I didn’t, but Kari had Pete’s goggles in her bag, so now it became imperative that we find them.  We walked over trying to find them, so when it came to a point where we had no time left, we dropped our stuff and proceeded to button up our wetsuits and prepare to go under the arch.  It was at that moment, our party found us.  Talk about cutting it close.  We hugged, gut our well wishes, wished each other luck and headed into the mass of athletes preparing for the start.

This year was a little different as signs were being held up with expected times for the swim.  It could be compared to pace groups commonly found in road races except instead of going deep from a start line this went wide along the shore with the idea that if the slower swimmers would be the widest from the buoys and would fall in behind the faster ones.   This was thought to bring down the chaos of a mass swim start, but for me, it was worse.   I have been in comparable rough water,  hit, kicked and swam over before and I always kept on swimming no matter what, but this time I was kicked so many times with the last time throwing my goggles from my face.  It took me a few minutes to find them floating away from me, but I was able to put them back without too much trouble.

When I finished my first loop, the clock said 1:11 which was very slow.  I thought I should be able to make up at least three minutes on the second loop, so I shouldn’t be in any danger of not making the 2:20 cutoff.  I found a rhythm and just kept swimming, but I veered to the left of buoys and to keep correcting my course.  When I made the turn for the straightaway to the swim finish,  I glanced at my wrist to check my Garmin to see how much time I had left, and it was gone.  Not only could I not find out what I needed to cross the swim finish, I wasn’t going to know how fast I would bike, or run.  I wouldn’t know when to take my nutrition or even what time it was.

0477_16758Three buoys from the end I ended up with a paddle boarder on the left of me and jet ski on the right.  The paddleboarder kept yelling the time I had left.  “You have 8 minutes. You got this just keep going.”  I have to admit, the idea of a DNF crossed my mind and it did not scare me.  I thought to myself “would it really be the end o the world.”  I would be able to support Pete, Jamie, and Kat and I wouldn’t have to worry about biking 112 miles, chafing, nutrition, none of it.  Of course, I wouldn’t get to cross that finish line and I would feel like a failure and that is what really scared me.  It wasn’t the disappointment of my friends or even my family, it was the disappointment I would have in myself.  That never-ending coulda, woulda, shoulda would really haunt me, so I sped up and went as hard as I could.  The waves after the sandbar helped and even though I got caught up in the rope tied to one of the lifeguard’s flotation device I was able to hit the beach at exactly 2:20 getting me over the timing mat at 2:20:08.

I don’t mind stating that I was exhausted.  I have stated it time and time again, that I am not even a good swimmer, but this really put it in perspective.

I ran into transition and the volunteers stated I had eight minutes to cross the bike mat, so they hurried me into my bib and jersey I was using for the bike, put on my helmet and shoes and rushed me out into transition to grab my bike.  I crossed and headed out on my 112-mile journey.

My lungs were screaming and my stomach was churning, but I just kept going.  I0477_15604 passed the mile 10 marker and about, what I estimate was around the 12-13 mile mark, nausea started.  I pulled over to the side of the road and vomited sea water over the guardrail.  Unfortunately, I have what is called a vasovagal response to vomiting, which basically means I pass out cold.  I woke up, splayed out on the side of the road with the sun shining in my eyes.  It took a while to get my wits and balance in order to get back on my bike.  I continued slowly with the thoughts of turning around and just ending it.  Who would blame me?  I became sick on the bike, no one would care.  With my stomach still churning and my head spinning I decided I would go to the twenty-mile marker and if I didn’t feel better I would turn around.  The earlier thoughts I had of a DNF plagued me again and when I saw the 20-mile sign, I was still feeling sick, but better than I did.  I took in some of the Isagenix mix I had in my bottles and decided to go on to the next marker, but it wasn’t more than a mile later I realized that if I turned around at the 30 mile mark, I would have biked 60 miles by the time I got back to the start.  That’s when I knew I had it in me.  It no longer was about time now it was about finishing.

From that point on the bike ended up being uneventful.  Sure, there were minor challenges.  For instance, the wind picked up quite a bit, and of course, I still had no perception of time, except for when I asked, but I just put my head down and kept going.

Here is a little lesson learned while I was on the bike.  As I mentioned the wind became a challenge during the bike, but I decided to wear an aero helmet and while I was in aero position and looked down, the wind became a little less a factor.  I found myself being able to pick up a higher cadence.  The minute I looked straight I could not only hear the wind, but I felt like someone had hit the breaks on my bike.  Every article and person always said, one way and the cheapest way to become more aero was a helmet.  They were right.

Being the last one out of the water did have one advantage.  I wasn’t going to get passed.  I was doing all the passing, and with each rider I passed, I felt a little bit of mental boost which helped a great deal.  I rolled into transition in a little over 7 hours, which, in my estimation, had me on the side of the road for a little over 30 minutes.  All-in-all it wasn’t actually that bad.

A volunteer grabbed my bike, I snatched my run gear bag and was greeted in the changing room by my friend, and client, Hugo Scavino.  He helped me rid myself of the bib and bike jersey and don my shoes and hat.  After a huge hug, I headed off onto the run course.  I stopped briefly for words of encouragement, hugs and kisses from Kim, Kari, Maria and Anne, and off onto the course I went.  I walked for about a quarter mile before I started running.  I was kind of amazed.  I felt like I was able to transition to my running legs a little easier than the Augusta 70.3 I competed in six weeks earlier.  I hit the first aid station in about 1.5 miles and I was feeling pretty good.  I formulated my plan of running from aid station to aid station and just walking while I was getting water and nutrition.  This worked for the first loop.

0477_16910Pete and Jaime passed me at my mile 3 and their mile 10 and we shook hands and I motivated Pete with warning him I should not be able to catch him.  Of course in the back of my mind, I was questioning if I could somehow make up 7 miles on him.  Dave Nardoski caught up with me on his second loop, so I walked and chatted with him for a few minutes before I picked up the pace again.  At mile 6 I saw Kat looking really strong and I yelled some encouragement to her as I passed.  The halfway point for the first loop is in a park and I was feeling pretty good.  I started doing the math in my head for what it would take to catch up to Pete and Jamie.  The idea of the three of crossing together seemed surreal but possibly realistic.  At mile 10 I saw Jamie and she had picked up the pace from Pete, and she looked really good.  Obviously, the three of us crossing was most likely not going to happen unless I could really pick up some speed and Pete and I could catch her.  A little while later I saw Pete again walking.  We stopped for a minute and he told me that everything hurt.  I gave him some encouragement and we parted.  Just prior to the turnaround I found myself running next to Lew Hollander.  Lew, is an 83-year-old, twenty-time Kona qualifier and finisher.  He is extremely inspiring and is the epitome of the idea that age doesn’t have to be an excuse.  We chatted briefly, he gave me some motivation, I congratulated him, he ran into the finisher chute and I made the turn.  Kim and Danny were on the other side of the turn, so I was able to see them and get some love and hugs from Kim.  She actually ran a little bit with me before I headed off.

I was hurting now.  At mile 14 I slowed to a walk.  My feet were screaming in agony, my hips, quads, hamstrings and IT bands were in a lot of pain and I started getting a twinge in my back.  I didn’t want to walk, but my legs were not letting me run either.  I decided I would walk to the aid station of after mile 15 and continue from there.  It didn’t happen the way I wanted.   I ended up doing a series of run/walk intervals all the way to mile 18 where Pete and I crossed for the last time.  We high-fived each other and continued on.  Not too far ahead I stopped to use a portlet, but when I exited I became turned around and stupidly started running in the wrong direction.  I caught myself about a half mile before I realized what I was doing and quickly did a one-eighty.  I guess I was meant to run even more than a marathon this time.

I did meet Susan, a member of the Sarasota Storm Tri Club, which I have participated in races and training with.  We chatted and played cat and mouse for a while.  Susan had a very steady pace, so I would catch her and then when I would walk she would pass me.  This happened about 3 or 4 times throughout the marathon portion.  After getting completing the out-and-back in the park to head to the finish I started to feel like I just was about done with this whole thing.  I was walking more than running, I was in pain and I was just ready for this experience to end.  When I saw mile 20, I thought I only have a 10k left.  I could do a 10k in my sleep.  I started to pick up the pace just a bit.  I walked through the aid station in between 20 and 21 and started talking to myself.  “C’mon legs.  Just one more training run.  I need ya.  Relax.  Use gravity as momentum.  We can do this.”

Ahead was mile marker 21, and it was then when I decided, there will be no more stops at aid stations, there will be no more walking.  It was time to get this done.  I picked up the pace and never looked back.  I caught up with Susan at mile 22 and I told her to come with me.  This was just a 5k with a one-mile warm-up.  She said something that really motivated me.  “You are really strong, Brad.”  Who was she trying to kid?  It wasn’t 12 hours ago I had thoughts of quitting.  I didn’t quit though and here I was 4 miles from the finish of my second Ironman.  I picked up the pace even more to a point where I was running at a sub 8:30 pace for a bit.  I was in a lot of pain, but it was going to be worse if I stopped.  Every time I passed another athlete or spectator they would say “Good job” and that just fueled me.  A couple of the spectators would yell, “Awesome pace keep it up!”  I ran through the Tri Club village at 25 when someone yelled “Go Goof GO!”, so I even picked up the pace even more.  When I finally reached the chute there were two people running together in front of me and I didn’t know whether to let them go ahead or pass them.  I passed them and sped up even more in order to make sure I was alone at the finish line.

I saw the finish line and didn’t even look at the clock.  After all, I hadn’t known what time it was up to that point, so what did it matter now.  The announcer bellowed, “Brad Minus from Tampa Bay, YOU ARE AN IRONMAN!”  Oh, how sweet that sounded.  Especially after being kicked, and hit in the water, losing my goggles and Garmin, vomiting and blacking out on the side of the road, and running through all that pain.  I finally reached the finish.

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A volunteer escorted me to Yvonne Van Vlerken, the women’s first-place finisher, who placed the medal around my neck.  We congratulated each other and she gave me a hug, and then I continued with my handler to get a shiny warming sheath, and a finish photo before she handed me off to Kim, Maria, Jamie and the Dannys.  I saw Pete sitting down and we just looked at each other with pain on our faces but pride in our eyes.

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The rest of the night consisted of pizza and hard cider and regaling stories of the race.  PB&J had accomplished what we set out to do a year earlier.

578495_10102260791193171_715325386_nJamie was the heroine of the night.  When she decided to run she end up fast enough to finish with a 13:50.  I am still so proud of her.  Pete ended up a little under 15 and I ended up with a 15:09.  I am not happy with it.  It is significantly longer than 2011, but I finished and everything considered, I did have fun.  That is what matters most.

Thank you to all who tracked and reported on Facebook, for all the prayers, thoughts, motivation and kudos, Anne, Kari, Maria, Hugo and all the other voluneteers, Kim for supporting me and especially to Pete, Jamie, & Kat for being my training buddies through this journey.

Carpe Viam!

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Albeit Augusta Part I

There is on aspect of competing in triathlon that is consistent among all courses, distances and brands; racing is lonely.  Obviously, during the swim it is hard enough to breathe let alone talk.  USAT regulations state that you keep four bike lengths between competitors unless one is passing and even at that point it must be done in 20 seconds, so accept for a “hey”, “hello” or an “on your left” there is not much conversation going on there.  The run can be more interactive, but after a long swim and bike, most competitors are already hypoxic or have a certain aerobic pace that doesn’t allow for a lot conversation their either.  It does happen though where athletes find new connections or meet with old and finish the run together, but it is rare, at least from what I have seen.  The common denominator is the people whom you share the race experience with, or the support that accompanies you.  After some logistics issues otherwise cancelled some of my support and fellow athletes, I was still fortunate enough to be surrounded by a small group of A-Trainers that made the entire experience a memory that will not fade.

On Friday we met up at Celeste’s home which was centrally located and began the caravan up to Georgia.  We started with three suv’s and a car with seven athletes.  Most of knew each other from other races and workouts, so the dynamic of the group was anxious but friendly.  The ride down was full of group texting, slight a couple of rather “adventurous” maneuvers, the lost and found of some of the caravan, but all-in-all safe and successful.

Luckily, we arrived early enough to drive to the expo and check-in, providing us the option of sleeping a little longer in the morning without the inconvenience of long lines which are typical to this race.  I was mentioning to one of my cohorts, that the previous year we arrived at check-in at 6am, coffee in hand, so we were in a prime spot when the activities started at 7.  I enjoyed this experience much more as there were no lines and even the expo was fairly empty enough to allow us to shop for any possibly extras we may need or want for the race.  Of course after an eight hour drive, unpacking gear, checking-in and shopping we were all tired and hungry.  We decided to walk down Broad Street, the main downtown strip, and see some of the nightlife on our way to Mellow Mushroom.  The thought of pizza from Mellow Mushroom made Celeste and myself excited with anticipation, but unfortunately, when we arrived there was a long wait and the other places we discovered just did not have the selection the group needed.  Even splitting up, Celeste and I picking up the pizza, while Beth, Bruce, Chris and Jessica retrieved the cars from the hotel proved to allot too much time between eating and allowing sleep to overcome us.  On the way back to the hotel, we settled on the next best choice which was have another pizza joint deliver food while we headed back.  The conversation seemed to stay on the race, sleeping and television while we plowed through two pizzas and 20 wings, which were actually a lot hotter than I expected, before we all finally retired for the night.

Saturday, brought on another level of excitement, renewed energy and the freedom of knowing the only task we needed to accomplish was to stow our bikes in transition for the next day’s big event.  I set the alarm for 7 o’clock thinking that would be the latest I slept in a while, but nevertheless my eyes popped open at 6:30 wide awake and ready for the excitement of the day.   Amy, my coach, had planned for me to do 15 minutes of each event as a precursor to the following day, however, emails had been sent from Ironman, announcing no swimming in the river would be allowed prior to race day. Swimming the day before the race is usually used to double check the wet suit and understand the conditions of the body of water.  For me this was not a big deal, as I had already completed the race the year prior, but it could have been for the rest of the group of whom not only was this the first time competing in Ironman Augusta, it was also their very first 70.3 distance triathlon ever.  With all of set on that fact, a few of us headed out for a run, which was surprisingly hilly, but interesting and fun due tot he southern cultural differences and the rare sighting of a fox.  Afterwards, we grabbed our bikes and headed out the opposite way and ended up in a very nice neighborhood with a couple of steep climbs.  I was grateful for that in order to test my bike, which had been recently pulled apart, cleaned tuned and re-assembled, and my legs.  Everything seemed to be in working order which pleased me just fine.

After a shower, a hearty breakfast, compliments of the Comfort Inn, and a quick jaunt to the bike store, we all loaded up our bikes and headed back to transition and race headquarters to drop our bikes in transition and explore the expo one last time.  Transporting our bikes to transition was uneventful with the exception that as we walked our bikes to transition, we noticed athletes with wet suits coming up out of the water.  When we inquired about it, they had no idea that there was an email warning of the disqualification if swimming in river prior to the race.  As a matter of fact the athletes we did talk with all mentioned the overabundance of people that were actually swimming, of which was confirmed by our own eyes.  We were all a little disappointed about that, however we shook it off not allowing it to crush our “high” of pre-race emotions.

Something I said to Chris, as we were walking into the expo that afternoon, may explain my last statement.  I expressed to him that I enjoyed the events of race weekend almost as much as the race itself.  The positive energy of all the athletes there to compete, seems to quell and increase allowing everyone to share in it.  Every expo I have attended from 5k races, marathons and mud runs to half and full Ironman triathlons, they all have never disappointed with the positive aura and energy collected and passed by runners, athletes and support staff.  It is one of my favorite parts of the weekend and this expo was just as exciting.

After buying a sample pack of a new natural energy drink called Zip Fizz, which tastes like grape and orange soda by  the way, I was walking back to the main hall when I saw someone I have been wanting to meet for a long time.  He was not only someone I had read about in countless articles but he was a friend of Lisa Jamison, my extraordinary massage therapist and friend.  This gentlemen did something that would be a first and would motivate a whole new generation of people to overcome the obstacles in their life and challenge themselves to live up to their own dreams.  Scott Rigsby, was the first double amputee to complete the Ironman World Championships in Kona, and I believe the first to finish a full Ironman period.  I was elated to meet Scott and I was shocked to watch him stand up and sit down as he was signing posters and books.  He moved up and down smoother than a lot of people I know whom have natural legs.  After a few words of conversation, a picture and him signing his book for me, I realized why he was so successful.  They guy just oozes positive mental attitude and strength.  Somehow, I believe that whether or not he lost his legs he would have still found a way to be a role model for people.  I wish I would have had the chance to read his book prior to the expo and would have been able to talk with him more about it.

Incredibly, I walked into the main hall and right there was another guy I admired.  John Pyle.  A vet whom had ran across America, flag in hand, for wounded veterans everywhere.  I had talked with John before where I coach at Fit2Run, and even then I noted his air of strength.  John is a little more grounded then Scott, not to mention a little older.  He reminds me of that guy in the motorcycle movies whom hangs out in the biker bars but is not part of the gang.  The character whom always ends up getting hit over the head with something on accident and then ends up taking out the whole gang.  Very cool, positive, respectful and passionate about his cause, but to be on his bad side seems like somewhere I would not want to be.

I completed my purchases and I headed to the hotel restaurant because I was starving.  I didn’t want anything to heavy because of our dinner plans that night, but I needed a snack and Bonk Breakers, Honey Stinger Waffles or any other race supplement was not going to do it for me.  As I sat at the bar, the beer taps floated past my field of vision and my mouth started to water.  Really?  I wanted a beer?  Now?  “Well, you only live once”, I thought to myself.  Thinking about my friend Dom (whom conquered the Chicago Marathon while stopping in the middle for a beer), I ordered a Guiness, and the Salmon with vegetables and it was awesome.  It was even plated beautifully.  While I was eating a very interesting couple sat down next to me.  The wife was an Xterra triathlete and trail runner hopefully bound for the World Championships and he was doing his first 70.3 the next day.  The dynamic had them supporting each other for races, but never doing the same race.  After the pleasantries and initial info gathering the conversation turned to running where I was impressed to hear after a long career of running she had started focusing on a new form to help her run more efficiently.  Was this a sign?  Running form is what I teach, coach and mentor athletes on and love doing so, and this athlete just so happens to let me know she has been looking at changing her form.  Kismet!  Of course as always I mentioned the group I coach at Fit2Run, my back story of how I became a form advocate, my results and then proceeded to ask her about her experiences changing her form and what she was looking to do.  We right on the same wavelength and she even asked my my opinion on a couple of things.  Needless to say, it was an outstanding feeling.

We called ahead to Carraba’s because of course most of the triathlete world wants pasta to carb load the night before.  Being on a 90% paleo diet I now forgo the pasta rituals and more prefer meat and vegetables.  I had a combo of steak marsala, chicken brian and vegetables with a couple of glasses of sangria to help me sleep.  It was perfect and the fact we did not wait for anything made it even better.  So, it was back to the hotel, to double check the gear, lay out clothes for the next day and off to bed.

My race night ritual usually always includes the following; lay out my gear, go over the race in my head to include transitions and nutrition, pack everything up, double check my list one more time, lay out my clothes bib, shoes, hat and glasses in some odd way, take a picture, post it to Facebook, set my alarm and do whatever I can to get to sleep.  The latter is the hard part.  I end up so anxious that I do not usually drift off for a couple of hours.  This night was no exception except I made a small error that revealed itself way too late.

My eyes popped open the next morning and I was ready for the day.  The alarm hadn’t gone off so I thought there was no problem with just lying around for a bit to get my bearings.  As I turned over, to turn off the alarm, my eyes cleared up on the face of the clock; 4:25am it read.  WHAT??? 4:25?? I was supposed to be up at 3:30 so I had an hour to gear myself up for the race before I was supposed to be downstairs at 4:30am.  SON OF A MONKEY”S UNCLE!! (That may have not been my exact vernacular.)  I couldn’t believe I overslept.   I immediately jumped up disrobed, put on my tri shorts an shirt, took my vitamins, put in my contacts, gathered my stuff and was down in the lobby by 4:30am awaiting the rest of the crew.  No hygiene, no pre-race glide, no pre-race meal and of course what I disliked the most, the fear I would have to  use a porta potty for a bowel movement.  OH-EM-Freakin -GEE!  My head was a wreck and I knew I had to get it together.  I was so lucky, I ended up driving myself to the race because I needed a little time to pull myself together.

I finally accepted the inevitable when we parked the cars fairly near to transition.  This was a huge plus as last year we ended up walking over a mile and then dragging our bikes and gear back.  Each moment started to bring on more and more positive energy.  Not that I wasn’t still anxious, but everything was starting to align.  Setting up transition was easy breezy.  A couple of weekends prior Amy had me running through my transition setup a few times to make sure I knew what was the most efficient for me, so it was just like putting puzzle pieces together; towel, shoes, cletes, race belt run, race belt bike, helmet and glasses.  Attach the bottles, ditch the bag and my transition was officially setup.  I ran up to it once and jumped in my cletes and mimed through my first transition as a quick check and at that point I was confident at least my bike and gear were ready.  I grabbed my wet suit, a honey stinger waffle and headed to the bus for a ride back to the swim start.

Everything continued to align as the bus’s speaker roared to life with the announcement that there would be two stops.  The first being the swim start and the second being the host hotel.  “Wait!” I thought.  “Did he just say the host hotel?  Really?”  Shut the front door!  I was going to be able to use a real bathroom prior to the race.  Awesome!  While the rest of the crew decided to go straight to the swim start, Jessica and I continued on to the hotel.  The thought of using a bathroom that was not a porta potty for…well…uh…number 2, elated me.  Not to mention, the idea I may be able to actually get that cup of coffee I was expecting in the hour I planned to have prior to leaving.  YAY!!!  Jessica seemed to be just as happy about the chance to have a cup of coffee as well.

After we both accomplished what we set out for we headed out to the River Walk and headed to the swim start.  The sky had this purple hue as the orange sun started to peak through the sky.  It was gorgeous.  I was also really happy to have a few spare moments to spend with Jessica.  She had taken the trip with us specifically to be a motivator and sherpa for Beth, and I could tell that she really appreciated Jessica being here.  Beth is this type A personality that while excitable always exhibits this aura of sunshine no matter how she is feeling.  Jessica, is extremely positive, but a little more laid back, but can definitely take her Cuban persona to a higher level when provoked.  Luckily, I only experienced it positively provoked spilling sunshine and rainbows.   I found her to be charming, caring and nurturing to everyone and luckily she was there because we all needed that grounding.

Jessica and I walked up to our crew sitting on a curb gabbing while a few of the other athletes we knew all started passing by.  We said our good lucks and gave hugs, high fives and fist bumps all the while suffering from own anxiety.  Beth is the one who turned me on to blogging more regularly and she has also forged connections with other fitness and running bloggers whom I have read.  One is Swim, Bike, Mom whom is very motivating and just so happened to not only be competing but was standing not to far from a group of bloggers that Beth was acquainted with.  I was really excited to see her there.   I don’t know what it was, but I was enthralled.  Maybe because she puts a lot of her personal feelings into her blog that I felt  like I knew her, but I was sincerely happy to see and meet her in person.

I looked at my watch and noticed it was 7:15, so I did some of my Dave Scott exercises, lunges and stretches and sat down to struggle with my wet suit.  As each leg went on the anxiety increased to another level.  “Just get me past the swim”, I kept saying to myself.  “Get me on the bike and everything will be just fine.”  One more glance at my watch.  7:28am.  I had no idea what I was thinking when the first gun went off and the announcer shouted that the Pro Men were off.  I went up to the barrier and and waited for them to swim by.  They were fast and looked as though they hardly were expending any energy.  If I could just figure that out before my wave start everything would be ok, but if I didn’t have it now, I wasn’t going to have it by then.  I decided I would trust my training and just do my best to keep straight by sighting every five strokes, kick as lightly as possible and just swim till I was done.  After that, what I thought, was a quick meditation my watch said 7:46.  I said goodbye and good luck to my crew and headed for the start.

Paint Wars Mud Run

Last weekend I participated in the Paint Wars Mud Run in Oldsmar, Florida. Well, mud run is not necessarily an accurate term, most of it was just wet, but it was fun. The obstacles were more nature made with some added ropes for safety, some hay bales and of course paint.

When registering for the run I was taken in by the description of the race which was, of course, a little exaggerated. The paint was to be squirted by Paint Ninjas at a lot of different points in the course. I only came in contact with two, but the anticipation made it fun. Let me start at the beginning.

I drove into the Whispering Oaks Horse Ranch with my little Mini Cooper Clubman where a volunteer pointed me in the right direction of the parking lot. Thank goodness I was driving my little car, because I ended up having to make a spot down a dirt road, but it just added to the suspense of the run. Upon following the signs to the registration table, we, Sarah and myself, were told to sign a waiver for the property, ok no problem. As we made our way to the registration line however we were then told to sign a waiver, this time it was for the race. One waiver for the property and one for the race? Whatever. We then got into a line for the registration and goggle pick up. It didn’t seem all that long, maybe 10-12 people, but it took almost 45 minutes to get through it. When we finally had a names checked and were given a SWAG bag with two promotional flyers in it, we moved over to the t-shirt line where we gave the volunteer our sizes. The next words out of his mouth floored me. “That will be 38 dollars.” What? Really? For a cotton t-shirt? Yeah, thanks but no thanks buddy. We went back to the car to drop off our phones and bags and headed to the start. We did receive a decent introduction to the course, basically letting us know that there was a few river crossings where if we decided to take them, we should know how to swim, because the depth was not shallow. At that point, my progressive 4b friend Sarah and I, took off at a decent pace.

It started with a trail run for about 500 yards and then a dead stop to wait for an obstacle. A tree crossing where the tree was underwater. I guess a lot of people took there sweet time, but Sarah took it like it was not even there and I just a tad slower. (Sarah is about 18 years my junior, so give me a break.) The crossing ended with a steep climb both up and sideways, with the recent rain adding to dirt making it a little slippery. Sarah was nice to her old partner and waited up a bit. I didn’t fall but I realized my agility is a little less than I would like it to be. (I think I need to get back to boot camp. As a matter of fact all the way through this course I was thinking that.) The next couple of obstacles were through the trails over trees and up hills till we came to another stop. We actually couldn’t see why we were stopped until we reached the top of this hill that then returned back to sea level, but in the middle was a rope swing that dropped you off into the water where you then swam about 100m to the other side with a strong current that could definitely keep you from reaching the exit point if you didn’t have some sort of skill. I think I had just enough.

I will say I wore my New Balance Minimus’ during the race which didn’t hold much water, but I think I might have been happier with the five fingers. The minimus’ would be great for Tough Mudder where there isn’t a lot of hill climbs, but here I think I would have liked the extra traction my toes would have received, but I digress.

After the swim there was a nice trail run with only a couple of puddles and a few hay bale hurdles to include a run through the ‘WAR ZONE’. OOOOOHHHH….we thought we were going to get it bad, we actually wore white so we would get it bad, but…nothing. Not a single Paint Ninja anywhere. SOOOO disappointing. Oh well, we kept running and a real nice pace. Sarah is has ridiculous stamina and while I was right on her tail the whole time, I was starting to feel it, luckily we hit another line for another tree crossing. This one was elevated over the river. We crossed that with ease and headed through another long trail run, through the war zone again, and with the same result, no Paint Ninjas, right into the one and only mud obstacle where our shoes got muddy, and it sprayed a little on our legs, but that was it. We crossed the finish line and went to the beer line.

We got in line and saw that athletes were paying 3.50 and we both decided to forget it. We found the cooler with gatorade had a couple of dixie cups and headed back to the car.

Was it fun, yes, but I wonder was it because of the race or because I had a partner who was very enjoyable to run with. I am going to say the latter, or maybe a little of both. Sarah said this was her break from studying for the third test out of four for her CPA. Sarah if your reading this…thank you for inviting me, thank you for running I had a great time, and I really hope you were extremely successful on your test.

and After