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
State of the Goof
With the start of the page on Facebook and the redesign of this blog, I feel like maybe I need to reintroduce myself and why this blog is becoming important to me. While also giving you the state of the goof.
Re-Introducing Brad Minus
I have been missing a gene in my DNA strand my whole life. It is not all that uncommon, but the drive to overcome it tends to become an obsession. Now and my whole life I have been missing the athletic gene. You know that ability to run fast, jump high, with the natural athleticism to compete in most sports even at a sandlot level and actually make a difference.
Most sports I have participated in either I was a detriment to my team, or I have to work two to three times as hard in order to gain an ounce of progress. Do you remember that kid in school that was continually picked last at the playground or rode the bench during organized sports? Yeah, that was me. What made it worse was my father was this big-time high school and club baseball player and track star, so of course, I was a disappointment in that arena. Of course for me, while it is a huge battle for any athletic undertaking, the slightest of rewards become twice as sweet.
Triathlon and running have been my latest love. Over the last few years, I have competed in all distances of races from 5Ks to Marathons and Sprint Distance Triathlon to the all mighty Ironman.
I have never won a race and have only made the top ten in my age group when the complement of athletes competing was small, however, I find small victories for myself. Sometimes, it is as small as completing the swim of a long course triathlon without resorting to the breast or backstroke. Other times it’s completing the bike averaging just one more mile-an-hour faster than last time, and then there are the times it is just surviving.
The funny thing is even with only these small personal racing credits, I have been given the honor of coaching new and returning 5k runners. I thought the most amazing feeling might be running across the finish line of the Ironman with the crowd cheering and the loudspeaker blaring “Brad Minus, from Tampa Florida you are an Ironman”.
Don’t get me wrong it was, but it was just a close second to watching a few of my runners, who started with no experience and the inability to run for sixty seconds, come across the finish line of their first 5k race with a smile on their face knowing the ran the complete distance without stopping.
Maybe I am just a sap, but I really enjoy watching people obtain success in any part of their life. Is it crazy that someone telling me “Thank you” after twelve weeks of coaching means more to me than training my own butt off for 30 weeks? Is it nuts that I really enjoy picking someone up in a marathon who is not having a great race and motivating them to the finish line 15 minutes faster than their personal record? I don’t know if it is or not, but the smile on their face is thanks enough for me.
See what I mean about the little victories?
If you know me personally then you know why this blog is called IronGoof, but for those being introduced for the first time, well it was two personal victories. One I have already mentioned. In 2011 I trained for and completed the Florida Ironman in Panama City Beach. Two months later, I completed the Disney Goofy Challenge in Orlando Florida which comprises of a weekend with a half-marathon on one day followed by a full marathon the next. After talking with a good friend I had met a year earlier at the same race, she teased me by calling me an iron goofy and it kinda stuck with me.
I hope to continue to bring you highlights from races and more state of the goof. Especially posts from events I am either competing in personally or spectate as a friend or coach. I also hope to write reviews on articles, opinions on products, perceptions on the culture of running and triathlon. Sometimes I will give my own personal thoughts and theories on how to run, train, ride, (heaven forbid)swim, strength train, eat and have a blast doing it. Even as I write what I want to do with this blog I am getting excited.
I also like to read other peoples blogs and when I see one that I think, you and the other readers might benefit from I will share it here as well as on my FB page.
With that, I bring this “State of the Goof No.1” to a close. Have a great week everyone.
Live Strong and have fun doing it.