Jumped and Touched the Clouds!!!!

If many of you have read my race reports before you know that as I always end up hearing a song just prior to an important race that sticks in my mind and sort of becomes my theme for the event.  Well, in less than shocking fashion the same occurred during my long drive out to Ironman Florida 2013(IMF13).  “Best Day of My Life” by American Authors became the theme that was going to roll around in my head for countless hours of swim/bike/run.  The opening sort of sums up the Ironman journey anyway to me:

I had a dream so big and loud
I jumped so high I touched the clouds
Wo-oah-oah-oah-oah-oh x2
I stretched my hands out to the sky
We danced with monsters through the night
Wo-oah-oah-oah-oah-oh x2

I’m never gonna look back
Woah, never gonna give it up
No, please dont wake me now

Oo-o-o-o-oo
This is gonna be the best day of my life

IMF13 was a day that was in the planning for over a year.   I had to register November 4th 2012 just to get into the race.  Sitting at home pressing reload on my browser, fingers shaking in anticipation of getting one of the few slots available online.  Despite having some very modest success racing the Ironman 70.3 distance the last two years, I had raced only one 140.6 distance race before, Ironman St George May 2012.  St George was an amazing accomplishment but the actual results that day left a very bitter taste in my mouth and an unsettling mental impression upon me.  Once I received the final confirmation that I was in I set about figuring out how to get the type of results that I would be happy with. This road saw me smash my PRs at the marathon (3:35), 1/2 marathon (1:33) and even 70.3 (4:42) distances along the way.  However, 140.6 is on a whole different level and I had that caution in my head in the days leading up to IMF13.  As I laid my head down to sleep Friday night it was filled with many reservations but also with a strange calm that “it is what it is” and to try to live in the moment.  Surprisingly, I actually slept well that night.

The alarm I had set for 4 am didn’t need to go off….I was up naturally at 3:30 am, time to get ready.  I could still hear the surf crashing outside my hotel room. The previous days beach activity had been very worrisome as the surf was up and the conditions were really unswimmable  (IMFl13 is a two loop course totaling 2.4 miles out in the Gulf of Mexico) The surf conditions the day before were crazy as you can see in the picture.

IMFL13 beach day before

It was very dark as I heading down to transition at 4:30 to take care of my bike and finish setting up my transition bags but I could still hear the waves had calmed a bit but not nearly what many had hoped.  The buzz around transition was intoxicating.  The nervous anticipation silently shared between athletes is nectar.  The excitement almost pierced the dark Florida morning.  After going over and over in my head all the nuances of transition and roaming around like a lost puppy worried that I was forgetting something I ventured back to the room for some attempted down time to relax and mentally rehearse the days pending events.
IMFL ready to go

Eventually it was time to go, light was creeping over the horizon and the crowds was building on the beach.  I decided to wear my Base Performance kit for this race.  I have been using Base Performance nutrition products for over 3 years now and honestly wouldn’t be here today without them.  More important than the quality, natural products they produce are the actions that the people behind the company display in giving back to people and communities.

IMFL HandsThe last thing just prior to leaving the room that I did was mark my hands with the first letters of the names of my girls (Grace and Kayla)  Knowing that this race would see me be in the aero position on my bike for many many hours I wanted to be reminded of why it is so important to fight the good fight and keep going.  My two daughters mean the world to me and hopefully they see my racing as an example of  trying to get the most out of life, leaving the tank empty and holding nothing back in the quest to be the best I can be.  They would be on this journey with me in spirit since they couldn’t make the trip to Florida.

Back in July I had made the decision to change my overall nutrition plans for racing to be more “fat adapted”.  This concept essentially revolves around the idea that we are made to burn our own stored fat more efficiently and with better results than to process the simple sugars of today’s sports nutrition products.  Even the leanest person carries with them enough fuel stored as fat to do multiple Ironman competitions.  I worked with this and came up with a formula that seems to work for me and IMF13 was the ultimate proving ground.  I had put my formula to a brief test just two weeks prior at the IronBaby event where I swam 2.4 mile, rode 112 and ran just 9 with great account.  However, I knew that today would be much harder physically than the test.  My “concoction” was (per hour of intended racing) 1 scoop of UCAN, 1 tblsp MCT Oil, 1 scoop of Base Performance Amino acid, 1 serving of Base Performance Electrolyte salt, and about 13 grams of Infinit Napalm (this was added for the caffeine and the simple sugars to feed my brain, not my body as even being “fat adapted” the brain requires just a hit of glucose to stay sharp) All of this was combined with Coconut Water.  I felt strongly that this strategy of “trickle carbs” in combination with the little bit of simple sugars would enable me to feed the body, feed the mind and get the job done.  My strategy was 20 oz just after I woke up, 2 bottles on the bike (@48 oz) and then 4 small bottles on the run (about 32 oz)

The swim start at IMFL13 is a mass beach start so 2891 of my closest friends and I waited on the dimly lit beach for the cannon to go off and the days events to unfold.  We watched intently as the Pro Men went off at 6:50 and at 6:55 the Pro Women followed right behind.  Over a 100 professionals had struggled somewhat to clear the breaks on the beach that morning and that was noticed by the rest of us.  The new swim initiative being tried here was a self policed, corral start where we were supposed to group ourselves together based upon estimate swim time for the 2.4 mile swim……not sure that was a good idea to ask a bunch of people that have a different sense of reality than most to be realistic about their swim time……and as we found out shortly, in my opinion, not a good idea.

IMFL water entry

We tromped out into the surf, hooping and hollering, trying to quell the butterflies we all had with some sort of vocalize exuberance.  Some had no problems cutting the waves, others were tossed around like rag dolls (probably the only time having some extra weight paid off during an Ironman) The first outward part of the race was a mosh pit, the slam dancing of swimming to put it another way.  Kicking, punching, and grabbing were par for the course…oh yea, don’t forget that you are in the water and need to breath as well. Outside the breaks the swells weren’t that bad relatively speaking but sighting was key.  I felt that the racers finally settled in and found their space around the second red buoy as we turned back towards the shore to finish our first of two loops.  The swells made it rough to sight the inward buoys but the hotel was on the horizon and we could use that as a reference.  According to my Garmin, when I stumbled out of the pounding surf to end Lap 1 I was at just under 30 minutes…..great time since I had planned a 1:10 overall or under swim.  At IMFL13 you have to get out of the water and run up and then down the beach to re-enter the water to begin your second lap.  They had allowed the crowd down close to the waters edge and the possibility of going further up the beach to maybe catch a little of the current back out to the first turn buoy wasn’t an option.  When we went back in I saw the lifeguards pulling a small lady out of the water…little reminder that safety is and always should be paramount.  The group I was with when we started our second loop got congested again and the mosh pit was once again upon us. As we made the inside red buoy and headed back out it did seem to subside though.  It was at this point that I made a real conscious decision to slow my pace, I was inside my target and not being a really strong swimmer knew that trying to go hard was only going to haunt me in the end.  I exited the water at just under 1:05 on my watch with my official time including the beach running of 1:06:25……I was still on target and the 65th person out of 500 in my age group out of the water.

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Here is my Swim File

trainingpeaks swim

We ran up the beach to the wetsuit strippers. Unfortunately, the volunteers were standing in the sand so when we hit the ground and stuck our feet up for them to pull our suits off we were covered in the beautiful sugar sand of the Florida Panhandle.  This wouldn’t have been much of a problem had they had more fresh water showers or given us more time to wash off but such luxuries were not afforded on this day.  I sped off to transition happy with the first leg of the day…now on to my favorite part, the 112 mile bike ride.

Once on the Bike it was time to settle in a bit, I was sticking with my target of @230 watt average as I had a little fear in the back of my head that I would go too hard and burn out.  112 miles is a long way and has to be managed a bit.  Riding for 112 miles isn’t daunting to me but this day included a little thing afterwards of running 26.2 miles too.  Heading out the wind felt like it was into us a bit so cadence in the mid 90s with power around the high 220s.  Ironman racing is supposed to be non drafting, but Ironman Florida is legendary for the packs of riders that form and draft all day.  Today was no different.  The first real pack that I saw form was around mile 10.  This pack was about 100 yards in front of me.  I contemplated reaching them but about then an official pulled up along side them on a motorcycle and started watching.  Not long after that was when the reason for the not drafting became painfully obvious to one of the riders in that pack. Two riders touched wheels and one guy went down hard.  Rider, bike, bottles and such were all over the road.  I raised my arm to alert the car that was right behind me know to slow down as we were racing on roads that were open to traffic.

As the day unfolded on the bike I actually ended up lowering the watts that I had targeted.  The speed was there so there was no need to push the edge with so much still in front of me.  I did have two instances where packs came up on me from behind.  My fear of getting boxed in and either penalized for drafting or even just riding in close proximity with people I was not familiar with made me stand up out of the saddle and ride off instead both times.  We really had great conditions to ride in that day. The breeze was up but manageable and I knew that once we made that last turn back towards Panama City Beach it would be behind us for most of the last hour of racing. I ended up with an official time for the bike of 4:49:06 Nominal Power of 227 Watts on average cadence of 91 RPM.

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If you are into numbers you are more than free to take a look at my TrainingPeaks file for the ride

trainingpeaks bike file

Once off the bike, the marathon lay in front of me….something my brain was trying to block out to be honest!!!!!

0477_53632The legs were a bit wobbly running through transition but nothing out of the ordinary after riding 112 miles.  I was trying to run a four hour marathon and the first bit was nothing unusual.  However, around mile three is when my feet began to essentially cause me problems.  Each step hurt yet my feet were sort of numb if that makes sense. This is the point in which I started trying to do math in my head.  I will admit that I am the guy with a degree in Russian at Texas A&M so maybe math shouldn’t be discussed…as we shall see later for sure… I began to go down that very dark road of pre-race-expectation disappointment, “dancing with monsters” just like in the song…trying to figure out that magical formula that would get me to the finish line at my intended goal. I thought of all the people that I knew  who were watching on-line, following my every split……the weight of my own expectations and of their expectations was immense……yet ultimately weightless.  Honestly, no one that really mattered to me cared about the time, plotted a path to 10:30, or even probably understood what 10:30 means in the grand scheme of a race that can last 17 hours, and that was OK   The people that really mattered wanted me to  give what I had to give, leave it all out there, yet cross the finish line without injuring myself.  However, that type of logic doesn’t exist in my brain while during an Ironman………I got very down on myself until I saw Jill at the half way point of the marathon….we made eye contact and I simply shook my head, defeated………………Jill yelled at me “you got this, if I have to go through back surgery in two weeks, you got this”.  My initial reaction was was “crap, that was rude” but the more I thought about it the more it made sense….I was in a situation that I paid for and signed up for, my pain was nothing compared to what she was having to deal with and I started to plot a plan.  This plan was trying to figure out how to manage the  next 13.1 miles despite the foot pain.

I eventually settled on a very strange plan…counting.  I would run while counting to 100, knowing full and well that I never actually count straight to 100, I get to certain points and I start over, adding the previous count in at the next starting point. This “plan” essentially was  set up for failure because I was banking on the sad fact that while running I usually lose count.  Somewhere in this process would probably be some extra time, some unknown-t0-my-brain time spent running and not walking. I set about this yo-yo philosophy while balancing the issues of every step with the steady accumulation of time. Around mile 23 1/2 or so I thought I heard someone travelling in the opposite direction as for the actual time, one of the volunteers responded 5:01….and I freaked! I thought to myself that there is no way that can be accurate.   That specific time meant that we had been out there for just over 10 hours….the goal that I thought had been lost was well within sight. I eventually made it to mile 25 and yelled over to one of the Newton Running reps about the fact that I has “squeaky” shoes (something he and I had spoken about a the expo) but that it didn’t matter because I only had one mile to go.  Behind me a fellow racer chimed in “thank God”.  I turned a bit and we struck up a conversation.  We both told each other that we wanted to stop and walk but we agreed that we would keep running together til we got to the finish line, holding each other accountable to finishing strong.  His name was Bubba and he was from North Carolina, we were going to do this together.  This little conversation spurred us on and the pace quickened, in fact my last mile of the marathon this day ended up being the fastest mile I ran all day.  Bubba eventually told me to run on during the last 1/2 of mile because he couldn’t hold the pace that we set.  I told him he better not stop and that I would be there for him at the finish line.

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As I entered the finisher chute the rush of adrenalin that comes over you running towards the finish line was surging through my veins.  I couldn’t believe when I looked up and saw the time, I had smashed my goal despite not having the type of run that I wanted or am capable of.  I raised my hands to the sky and thanked my father above.  Once again, I had “jumped and touched the clouds”.  No, I wasn’t the fastest person there, I didn’t win any awards and they wont remember me after I am gone from this town but I dared to take on this challenge for the second time and today really was one of the “best days of my life”.  Once across the finish line two volunteers grabbed me, guess that look of shock on my face made them worried I was in trouble.  I let them know I was good, we needed to turn around and find Bubba.  My running companion had held his word and he came across the finish line not long after me.  I walked over to him and we embraced….essentially two strangers but that very short conversation and bond formed at mile 25 was special. There is a very unique bond between competitors at an extreme endurance event like Ironman, something very special indeed.

I looked around after the finish line and found Jill.  I kept asking her what my official time was.  I was still struggling to really believe that I had beaten my goal.  Euphoria probably isn’t the right word to use to describe how I felt when I actually saw the official time on the tracker.  10:18:03 WOW what a day!

IMFL sunsetLooking back at the overall stats of the race, I finished 268 out of 2891 participants overall, 47  out of 500 in my age group.  I was in 17th spot coming off the bike and had the 2nd worst run of the top 50 in my age group.  There is a lot to be happy about and a lot to work on.  All that raced this day were very blessed with great weather, amazing spectators and even better volunteers.

I now have a couple of marathons coming up in December and January, Texas 70.3 in April of 2014 and my A race IRONMAN BOULDER in August 2014.  I have some lofty goals for those races (3:15 marathon, 4:30 1/2 Iron, and a very lofty 9:30-45 for Ironman Boulder) but I think if I can work to improve my run, those goals are achievable.  After all, 4 years a go I never thought I would be able to run a 1/2 marathon either!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

701.6 is less than 140.6

701.6……….that is the number of miles that I drove from my home town in College Station Texas to my hotel in Panama City Beach Florida.  The drive was done over two days so as to not put a huge strain on my body because on Saturday November 2nd I get the distinct honor of participating in Ironman Florida 2013.  This event will be 140.6 miles of swim/bike/run and while most conventional math scenarios would state 701.6 as more than 140.6, I assert that it is the opposite for sure.

As I pulled into town the race jitters were in full glory (it might have been the two stops to fill up at Starbucks this morning but caffeine has nothing on race site adrenalin) It was warm today but the cold front coming through on Friday should make for a chamber of commerce type of race day! I stood for too long in  rather stagnant packet pick up  line filled with a large amount of compression sock clad, funky tan lined, very little body fat people!!!! When they say “getting there is most of the battle” they are talking about these kinds of people.  We train for months and months to put it all on the line on one given day encompassed with a myriad of variables! Once I had picked up everything and managed to get through the merchandise tent without too much damage I set about wandering the expo.  It was during this time that the HR started to settle and a quote I put on my Facebook page hit home

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My dream race scenario would be to put in an easy 1:10 or under swim.  With the  swim being a mass start, two loop, salt water swim I have no visions of setting a PR in the water and that’s OK.  However, once out of the water its show time for me, the 112 mile bike is pancake flat and will all be about power and cadence.  The changing weather should also be good for the bike as a nice breeze out of the north should blow us home the last 30+ miles.  I had originally planned on pushing 245 Watts average on the bike but after the IronBaby event 2 weeks ago I feel as though Watts closer to 230 will be more efficient and fast enough to hit my goal for the bike of 5:00 flat or below .  And all of this brings us to the elephant in the room, the 26.2 mile run.  Here is where the planning, nutrition and ultimately HEART will come into play.  I plan to try to go out at around 9 min + per mile pace and hold that for the first lap of 13.1, once on the second lap I am going to ask my body to respond and start lowering that pace. Unfortunately, I don’t know what it will say!!!!!!!!!!!! I would love to turn in a sub 4 hour run but this portion is where I have the most doubt and fear.  Having run many marathons (best time of 3:35 this year at Houston) but I also know that Ironman marathons are a whole different beast (my last two 1/2 Ironman runs of 13.1mile have both been sub 1:45 so I think my goal may be in me as long as I can manage my nutrition, body temp and fatigue) So all of this adds up to something in the neighborhood of 10:30 when you throw in transitions.  I know that there will be plenty of pain, adversity, and doubt as races like this are a huge emotional roller coaster.  I will either hit my goal or I wont but I promise to not let it define me.  I am blessed to even be here and have this chance to test myself.

When the cannon goes off at 7 a.m. CST Saturday and I run down the beach towards the Gulf of Mexico to begin my Odyssey that will encompass a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, and 26.2 mile run I wont do so alone nor unprepared.  I am so lucky to have an adoring family and amazing friends that have tolerated my endurance lifestyle and countless Facebook posts about the miles and miles and miles of training.  At this point I am not even sure that I could document the actual number of miles I have put in since so many other races have led to this day.  So on Saturday, 140.6 is a bigger number than the 701.6 miles it took to get here because 140.6 is a picture of whats inside, placed there by hundreds of hours of work and held together by the thoughts and prayers of my amazing support group!  Hopefully the day will go as planned, but if it doesn’t I pray that I have the patience and the heart to find a way!

‎”All endurance athletes are running away from something inside themselves”

Sitting here on New Year’s Eve, looking back over 2012 a quote often attributed to Lance Armstrong spins in my mind with all the swim/bike/run data……”All endurance athletes are running away from something inside themselves”

To put my 2012 in perspective, training this past year encompassed 441,000 yards of swimming (251 miles), 6,142 miles cycling, and 1,426 miles running. All of those miles meant that I was fortunate enough to have been a part of the following events: Houston Marathon, Armadillo Dash 1/2 Marathon, Memorial Hermann Ironman 70.3, Ironman St. George 140.6, Aggieland Sprint Tri, Ironman 70.3 Austin, and the B/CS Marathon. As in life,there were countless moments of personal triumph and disappointment in many of those events. Highlights of the year were:
1. Personal Best Marathon Distance (Houston 3:51)
2.Personal Best 1/2 marathon (Armadillo Dash 1:40)
3. Personal Best 1/2 ironman distance (Austin 70.3 5:00:30)
4. Completed my first full ironman in may.

A side note to all of that not to go unnoticed is that I was injury free the entire year (minus the usual aches and pains that any 40+ year old should feel :)

While that may sound all rosy, there were several moments this year during races that I would love mulligans for. Three of those that come to mind are:
1.Nearly collapsing from cramps in Galveston only 1/2 mile into the run portion of a 70.3, and realizing that I still had to run another 12 1/2 miles on legs that could barely move without severe pain.
2. Training hard and long for my first Ironman 140.6 and coming to the realization during the marathon part that my time goals were beyond my capabilities that day. There were times during the last 13 miles of that race that I was an emotional wreck trying to grasp what I had done to myself and what I had put my family through to end up in that spot. Moments that I regret and yet cherish!
3. Mile 5 of the B/CS Marathon when I realized that it wasn’t going to be my day in terms of goals and still had to run another 21+ miles, it was hot, my headphones died and I felt like crap…..

So with all that being exposed, why do it? Am I running from something inside myself or chasing something external that ultimately may or may not be attainable? I suppose on some level I am avoiding the ever encroaching Father Time but I also think that it is rather arcane to give in to the notion that as we age we have to give up the abilities and ambitions of youth! I feel pulled to not let “someday” become part of my life. “I can so I will” headlines my daily calendar so that “someday” is always overridden by TODAY! No I am not as fast now as I could have been many years back but I also think that I could not have handled the mental load administered during many of the events this year when I was younger. Embracing the suck that is inevitable during endurance events and dealing with it, and sometimes conquering it, for my kids, my family, my friends, and especially myself is a very unique medal that I could never replace. I will admit that on one level Lance is dead on, anyone that has ever toed the line at an event that they have poured their heart and soul into probably understands that the toughest critic any of us can or will ever face is the person that stares back us in the mirror! So as I bid adieu to 2012 and turn my gaze towards 2013 with its potential for unbridled joy and crushing disappointment I do so with as much resolve to fulfill the gifts that God has given me as I entered the year. I am going to keep swimming, biking, running and living my way towards getting the most out of this gift. The finish lines I cross are nothing more than markers on the road to being a better father, husband, brother, son, friend and human being. Eleanor Roosevelt said “happiness is not a goal….. It’s a by-product of a life well lived.” In my book, 2012 was well lived! God Bless all of you, Happy New Year to you and your families and may 2013 bring you all you want and more!

Finest Hour? 2012 Ironman Austin 70.3 Race Report

WOW!  What a difference a year makes……Ironman Austin 70.3 in 2011 compared to 2012, worlds apart in terms of outcomes.  Throughout this journey of endurance events the last 3+ years one very important quote by Vince Lombardi has touched me deeply, “I firmly believe that any man’s finest hour, the greatest fulfillment of all that he holds dear, is that moment when he has worked his heart out in a good cause and lies exhausted on the field of battle – victorious.”  Now, I don’t pretend that any of the precious moments that I have had this year qualify as victorious in the classical sense….after all, a 42 year old seldom crosses the finish line grasping the winners prize or holding the tape aloft.  However,for me, this past Sunday at the 2012 version of Ironman Austin 70.3 was a very special day both in terms of results and for what Coach Lombardi said “fulfillment”.

The day began, as most race days do, at a very unkind time in the morning, 4:30 a.m.  I crawled out of bed in search of coffee and food.  Thoughts wrapped around the impending race in not so pleasant mid 40 and low 50 degree temps.  Sitting there on the bathroom floor eating breakfast while the rest of my beautiful family slept that extra bit of time.  I felt pensive.  Mornings before all my races seem to be that time that the trepidation of self doubt moves in to briefly occupy my thoughts.  Fortunately, the sound of Jill’s alarm clock chased those ridiculous thoughts away and my brain was forced on to the task trying to make sure that we got everything out of the hotel and off to the race on time.   I am a very lucky man to have such a supportive family but I would be remiss if I didn’t mention how beyond fortunate I am to be married to my amazing wife Jill.  As many of you know, long course triathlon or any endurance event requires an almost selfish devotion to the tasks, many times at the expense of those around the athlete.  Jill wears many hats during the year, too many in fact to name, but her support is unyielding, her devotion to me and our daughters is priceless.

Once at the race site we were fortunate to get an amazing parking spot right next to T2.  The Tahoe had the outside temperature reading as 42 degrees and I could see the flags around starting to get a bit of starch in them.  All signs were pointing towards a chilly day at the office.  I ventured over to my spot in T2 to drop off my run bag while the family stayed in the warm confines of the car. The crowds were lighter than last year, maybe the improved traffic situation from two years back had people getting there later.  Once back to the Tahoe, I convinced the clan to get all their gear and head over to the shuttle buses for the journey to T1 and the swim start.  I must say that the stress level compared to last year was already down ten fold.  Last year the lines were long and I was so stressed that I actually ran from T2 to T1 with all my gear, worried about being there on time and all the other details.  This time, everyone was with me, the pace was slow and everyone, except for the butterflies in my stomach, was very calm.

Once at T1, I went through body marking and took care of my bike.  It was very disappointing to see that only half of the participants got carpet in the aisles between our bikes.  The rest of us were going to be forced to deal with rocks and dirt/mud when trying to get out of T1 on our bikes.  I have raced in 5 Ironman run events and Austin is by far the worst in terms of transition areas.  Something really needs to change in Austin regarding this or they need to move the race.

It really was a beautiful, but cold morning.  The kids were freezing but kept me warm with their smiles.  

It was neat during the cold times that morning to be next to the run up to T1 and see the pros come out of the water.  Andy Potts, Macca and others had steely determination running up that hill towards the bike.  Eventually, however, it was my time to go.  I abandoned the warmth of my jacket and shoes and jogged down to the swim start trying to get warm and ready.  Once there the sound of pre-race chatter between competitors became a warming welcome.  I found myself in a conversation with two first time racers……funny how just 14 months back I was in their same position. Yet now I was the one with three other 70.3 and one 140.6 races under my belt.  As I left them at the end of the pack I gave what little advice I could, “Enjoy the Day”…..words I also thought to myself that I need to heed as well.

Water temperature this morning was in stark contrast to air temp, 71 degrees.  I swam over the the inside left front of my wave…Wave #9.  Being positioned to go off 35 minutes after the pros means a swim full of chaos but you know that before the start.  Once the gun went off I shot for the inside line with the buoys, ever mindful that, for me, the swim is a period of time to warm up, get in position and try to be patient to get it over with.  I have had varied luck in my swim times during 70.3 races.  Last year both Lake Stevens and Austin were 36 minute swims but earlier this year Galveston was 32 so target wise I was going to be ok with anything in between.  For whatever reason, this year in Austin seemed even more congested in terms of swimming up on earlier waves, I think I counted at least 5 other swim cap colors during my swim, there just never seemed to be any decent open water and way too many people just treading water.  The water clarity at this race is next to zero.  Oh how I would have loved to have had the crystal clear waters of Lake Stevens or St. George to be able to navigate without running into or up onto slower swimmers….and I am not a fast swimmer!

Once out of the water I glanced up at the clock and saw that I was in the range of 33 mins (Actual clock time for swim was 33:08) so not bad but I exited the water knowing that I didn’t feel as though I had a good swim, too much effort was spent out there compared to what I had targeted.  I did notices as we were running up the hill that we all had steam coming off us….a gentle reminder that the warmth of the swim was soon to be followed by a chilly, wet remainder of the day.  I saw my support crew, TEAM TOMLINSON, about 3/4 way up the hill and briefly stopped to kiss the girls.  I was living my dream and loving it, I wanted to share my joy with them.  By the time I got to my bike I had, as I had feared, at least 1/4 inch of caked dirt/mud on my feet and my hands….no choice but to sit down in it and try to clean my feet before getting dressed.  The weather of the day prescribed clothing options not normally necessary in a 70.3….extra layers, extra clothes mean longer transition times and my T1 time of 6:02 would come back to haunt me later.  I got as much clothing on as possible, got my feet as clean as I thought I needed (not clean enough as I would learn on the run) grabbed my bike and carried it out of transition due to the every present warnings to not roll bikes in T1 due to the threat of thorns.

Once on the bike I noticed that my average HR was way too high, 147 BPM is not where I wanted to be so I held back on the watts, focusing on relaxing and staying aero.  My coach, Brett Blankner, had advised I hit the lap button on my Garmin 310XT every 20 minutes so I used that as a gauging point.  After about 40 mins I noticed that my average HR was going down and things were more in line with what the game plan was.  However, the pre-race target for Watts was now out the window.  The NNE wind was up much harder than anticipated and I knew that I needed to hold back when faced with that and take advantage when down wind.  My mind went to my HR and the effects that burning it up now would have on my run. One scary moment happened around mile 9, I dropped my chain.  I had to reach down and put it back on by hand while travelling about 30 mph…..not a good or safe thing. With this race being a wave start, and always being in the back waves, I am aware that I will almost certainly spend my day weaving through hundreds, or even thousands of fellow competitors on the bike.  The disadvantage of being a strong cyclist I suppose.  The form for this portion of the race fell in line with other 70.3s, I was never passed on the bike by anyone that didn’t eventually get passed and left behind by me but not because I was single minded.  In fact, my portion of this race came out great in terms of my variability, I stayed within myself, rode hard but smart, kept an even cadence and got the most out this ride that I could.  I wasn’t ever really cold but the toes and fingers weren’t thrilled.  I put down a decent bike time that day all things considered (2:32:42 for a 22 MPH average on @222 WATTS)

The last mile of the bike my mind started drifting to questions about my legs, wondering what would be there when I got off the bike?  What did I have left in the tank?  Rolling into T2 I was again greeted with the warm faces of TEAM TOMLINSON, I felt so energized by their enthusiasm and it allowed me to focus on the next task…running 13.1 hilly miles.  I had a decent T2 time of 2:49, most of which was actually running from my bike drop to the run out.  My legs felt like a million dollars, I was stunned.  I had so much excitement that I really had to work hard to slow down the first mile of the run.  I was going out too fast and needed to use my brain to get things back in line, this was no time to be a hero, it was time to be patient. The run course in Austin is 3 very hilly loops so eating up miles and staying at a constant pace are critical.  About 2 miles into the run, I started to feel some pain in my left foot in the toe area.  I realized that I must have not gotten my feet completely clean during T1 and that I must have dirt/debris in my sock and between my toes.  I wasn’t going to stop and check, I was too close to my goal.  I just decided that I would have to deal with it and keep moving.  The first lap went by rather quickly, taking the approach to be steady and even up the hills and then relaxing heading down, taking in just a small portion of water at each aide station.  Coming back around I found the girls cheering for me and again my spirits were lifted….the thought that this might actually be a very good day starting to come over me.  I tossed my gloves that I wore during the bike and part of the first loop over to the girls and rounded the corner heading out for the second loop.  The second loop is where the legs started to get a little heavy but I kept my pacing thoughts and hovered around 8:10 min per mile pace, drifting back on the uphills and catching back up on the down.  It was right about now that I really started to notice the course getting crowded and the number of people walking.  My mind drifted back to some of my previous races and I saw myself in their shoes…. I instantly said aloud “NOT TODAY” and pushed on.  Rounding the end of the second loop I was around mile 9 or so and my body was hanging in there but then I saw Jill, I wanted to tell her that it was starting to hurt but I think that she could see it on my face.  I avoided eye contact with her as I got really emotional thinking of what I was doing and how much the love of my family was there for me at that time.  Rounding that last turn on the way out for the final lap for a brief moment I couldn’t catch my breath…..it was a weird sensation, trouble breathing was not what I needed at this time….I then remembered my little run mantra “bigger than me but not stronger than us” and I realized that I had come this far, and it was not time for it to end….keep running.  Honestly, the third loop was broken into two sections, miles 8.5 or so til just past the 11 mile marker.  Once I hit the aide station just past the 11 mile marker I was finally out of nutrition, got a last drink and told myself “come on, its just 2 miles, its like being at home, running towards the house”  I kept watch on my pace as I tried to push it but I honestly don’t think I looked at my watch to see the total run time, I was busy doing the math in my head.  After the last real hill, just short of a mile left I think I mumbled to myself “anyone can run a mile” …the days events all started flooding my mind, I was really close to putting in the effort that I wanted to from the first time I did one of these races.  When the finish shoot came into view I darted right around a large group of other runners and took off. I didn’t care about HR or anything else, I was near the end.  The finish at Austin is very unique because it is inside, so rounding that last bend of the finish shoot you are plunged into an arena filled with fans.  I was all alone running down the carpet, sprinting at around 12 MPH.  I heard the announcer call out my name and home town.  The girls were on my right as I entered the arena and I heard them call my name but didn’t look up, I was looking on the other side of the finish line.  I crossed that line officially with a time of 5 hours and 30 seconds, a PR by over 25 minutes!  I put down a run of 8:04 min per mile pace after a 1.2 mile swim and 56 mile bike and I was fired up! My finish photo shows me crossing the line, fists clinched, ready for a fight.  I think I scared the camera person when I screamed out load my excitement!

I took my finisher medal and hat in a bit of daze….wondered out the back of the finish corral realizing that my family was back behind me.  About that time I heard Jill call out my name and I turned to see the kids running towards me.  My emotions got the better of me and a burst into a sob.  I couldn’t control or fight back the tears.  Here I was, a 42 old man balling his eyes out at the finish line of an event that I never doubted I would finish.  I finally looked back at the finish clock trying to figure out if I broke the 5 hour mark to no avail.  The kids were asking me why I was crying, I didn’t know how to tell them that I was so happy…I had honestly given it all I had that day, I had faced that critical point that comes in all long endurance events where you give in or you fight on.  I had found the “suck”, embraced it, then I kicked it in the teeth and kept going.  No, I didn’t hit my time goal but I toed the line, I fought, and I finished fulfilled by my effort. I did finish 17th in the 40-44 age group out of 350+ races and 159 out of 2539 in the event.  I know what I am working on is making me faster and there will be other days  This day and the events of this race are why I do these things, I don’t pretend others can or will understand, frankly I don’t care if they do.  I got a chance to dig deep inside and expose the best of me today to myself, my kids, my family and my friends.  I think Coach Lombardi would say that today was one of my finest hours!

Saving The Best For Last – Ironman St George 2012

Well, back on a plane, headed home from Ironman St George 2012. The last 140.6 at St George is in the books and it certainly went out with a bang! The Ironman slogan of “anything is possible” was put to one of the most stringent tests ever on that day. The weather was beautiful if you were on the sun porch and not swimming, biking and running.

Alarm clocks that ring at 3:45 am are just evil is all I can say about getting up that morning. We gathered our stuff and rolled from the hotel at 4:30 am, headed downtown for me to catch the shuttle out to Sand Hollow Reservoir. Jill was forced to drive out to the fair grounds to catch a different shuttle for spectators, something that was a bit foolish and certainly complicated the days logistics. The bus had a bit more conversation than I would anticipate with the days schedule in front of us. I zoned out with music. I would be remiss if I didn’t admit that I wasn’t personally fired up for race day. So much time, sweat and money had gone into just getting to this point that I had more of a feeling of foreboding instead with the days daunting tasks in front of me. I chose this race for my first Ironman because it was so hard and I certainly got what I asked for but not more than I could handle.

Once out to Sand Hollow we filed off the bus to body marking and our bikes. I received the customary race numbers on my shoulders, my age at the end of the year on the back of my left calf, and a K for Kayla on my right hand and a G for Grace on my left hand so that when things got tough I would always see my inspiration. I brought my pump in my suitcase on the trip but left it in the room, choosing instead to rely on the generosity of a stranger to get my tires pumped up to where I like. After I had taken care of all of that Jill was there and we settled in for another hour of watching the sun come up, getting covered in sunscreen and putting on my wet suit. I entered the water about 15 mins before start and just as the Pros went off. Water temp was 63 degrees that morning…….just perfect in my mind. Once in the water we started noticing that we were being pushed to the left a bit while waiting. If we had only knew what we were about to experience :). Once the cannon went off it was a typical mosh pit swim as all 1500+ swimmers vied for the right line to the first buoy. To me, it wasn’t really that bad….only got punched in the back of the head once and no one was able to swim over me…. Once we hit the first red buoy you could sense something wasn’t right. There were fairly decent waves coming at us from our left. My first thought was that the rescue boats had churned up large wakes pulling people and that was were the waves were coming from…..man was I wrong. The north wind that came up after we were in the water changed the game that day…and not in a positive way! By the time we hit the long backstretch the waves had turned into 3-5 foot swells that were right into us and white capping. This was essentially when it got really serious out there in the water. The pack became very splintered, sighting became almost impossible. I had to stop swimming just to crest a wave to reorient. I overheard someone scream “swim towards to island” and that might have helped but I couldn’t see the island either. My swim form became the least of my thoughts and my mindset simply went to survival mode……swim til you get to get out, time is irrelevant. It was the first of many times that day that my mind told me that the real goal was to finish, time be damned. I would have been one of those people pulled from water or missed the swim cutoff time all together had

When my feet finally hit terra firma with a time of 1:18 I scrambled up the boat ramp to the wet suit pullers and all I could say was “WOW”. Mike Reilly, the voice of Ironman, stated “this was without doubt the toughest ever Ironman swim ever in the USA”. This day of reckoning had certainly gotten off to a very in auspicious start. Inside the changing tent the buzz about all the people being pulled out of the water was crazy….I heard all sorts of numbers but I think it would be fair to say 150-200 that started the swim never made it out on the bike that day. The wind that had caused so much chaos on the swim was just warming up to give even more grief on the bike. Riding 112 miles on one of the toughest Ironman course is a challenge enough without a swirling and gusting wind. We made our way back into St George with mixed results, some cross wind and some head wind blowing 20-25 mph. I didn’t realize the impact until around the 19 mile mark when I saw on my Garmin that I had been riding longer than an hour and I knew that the real meat of the course lay ahead. At the start of the first loop (essentially a 32 mile climb) it became evident that all plans had to be recalculated as we turned straight into this head wind. In trying to keep the watts down to conserve energy I was essentially spinning along in my small ring (39) and back cassette in 28. I could hear my coach Brett in the back of my head telling me to be patient, save it…its a long day! Just trying to maintain a straight line in the aero position became almost a hopeless cause. I later learned that one of the professionals had actually been blown off the road, a story that is very easy to believe as the north wind gusting and shooting down the narrow walls of the canyons right into our faces at least 40 mph in spots making every pedal stroke a challenge. Another leg of the race that was turning into survival. Once at the top of the final climb of the first loop, around mile 50, we made the turn back to St George so that we could do the loop again I ended up clocking a top speed of 53.3 MPH……not a ride for the faint of heart. The second loop wasn’t any more fun than the first loop but I did see Jill in the town of Ivir and despite the tears that brought to me it made me think of all the people that were essentially out there with me because they were following the days activities via Jills texts and online. I rode on with a little bit of renewed determination not wanting to disappoint. At that point, I knew that I had to make an adjustment to my hydration plans with the increase in time so I took on a few bottles of perform when I was out of my own calorie and salt supplies I had for the bike. Unfortunately I did have a mechanical issue, my front derailleur wasn’t working right and I dropped my chain twice causing me to have to dismount and put it back on with my hands. I relish a challenge but that was the hardest 112 miles of my life. When my normal rides of that length average around 22 mph it can be emotionally deflating to end up at 17 + mph and a time of 6:30. However, I will take that as a whole host of people that were fortunate enough to survive the swim missed the bike cut off and were forced to abandon the race. Again my mind was reminding me that the real thing is finishing!

Rolling into T2 I felt tired but not completely drained. The lack of humidity in the St George area was one of the few weather blessings that day. I took a little extra time in the changing tent to get my bearings, have a banana and some sport drink. I also made sure to take advantage of the sunscreen appliers just outside the tent as well. Starting out on the run I noticed that my hip flexors were essentially shot. I figured that they would eventually loosen up but they ever did… A sign that, for me, the run was going to turn into run/walk survival 26.2 miles. I am thankful that I never cramped thanks to my nutrition plan (Base Performance) that was at least a small concession while trying to finish up the race. The first lap went fairly well. I had planned to run to each water station and then walk through and that essentially worked as I made the first loop in 1:27. We had driven the run course the thursday before but on foot it was fairly clear that there was more of an elevation change than I had noticed from the car (as I had just found out on the bike as well) The next 2 laps were more walking and less running, I was toast. Just get me to the finish line became the mantra. Taking inventory of body parts that hurt became a lost causes as I think the list contained 99 % of my body.

Running down the shoot towards the finish line was something I will never forget….my legs gave me a break and I swear I was floating…my arms raised to the sky, thanking God for this chance to prove to myself and others that anything is possible. My mind drifted to thoughts of my amazing family and all their support…my wonderful wife Jill for supporting my dreams and my kids for always believing in me. I was about to become an IRONMAN on a day that will go down as one of the toughest Ironman events on US soil (nearly 30% of the starters failed to complete the race) There were a lot of people that day that had their game plans blown to smithereens (the men’s winner of the race finished at 9:07 during a time in which most Ironman 140.6 races are won in sub 8 hour times) I saw so much strength in the face of adversity on saturday! Everyone that toed the line at the last Ironman St George 140.6 really shined in the face of extraordinary circumstances. Famous triathlete Paula Newby Fraser tweeted during the day “to all the athletes- seen many many races….. You’all really were the “IRON” in Ironman today.. Getting it done! #IMSTG” I am glad we started the swim before the winds came so that the race wasn’t changed to a duathlon. I also should mention that I was blown away by the community support in the St George area. I have never been to a race as supported as this one. Beautiful place but even better people. I had gone into the race with the mindset that I wanted to walk away from this being known as a fighter. I gave all I had that day and for that I will always be very proud, no regrets. Yes life is more about the journey and not the destination but sometimes along the way there are destinations that are so magical that they are worth the price you must pay to get there. I found one of those places on May 5, 2012… 140.6 miles from where that day began right smack dab in the middle of St George Utah but also in my heart and mind!

There goes a fighter

A sense of deja vu seems to be coming over me ….sitting on a plane headed to an unfamiliar destination to participate in an endurance event that both scares and excites me. This time the traveling party of Team Tomlinson is just Jill and I but there are many at home that are a part of this journey that have me in their thoughts and prayers. Ironman 140.6 St. George 2012 is the target this time. Ironically my first 140.6 race will be the last at this location. Unable to sell out the race for the second year in a row has forced the race organizers to change this race to a 70.3 starting next year. Reasons for this range from the difficulty of the course, early calendar slot excluding a lot of the northern participants from getting in enough outdoor training, addition of Ironman Texas a few weeks later (a race I would love to do but just not interested in racing in the heat and humidity I train in all the time ;) St George is the race that I wanted to be a part of when I first looked at the 2012 Ironman schedule despite some personal scheduling issues in the last few weeks. Maybe it was the challenge of the bike, the desert setting with its high heat and low humidity, or just the fact that it was early in the season and close to my other races that pulled me to the beautiful setting in southwest Utah…. Either way, it’s go time now!

Like last year when I was headed to my first 70.3 in Seattle, a new song has hit me like a ton of bricks. This one is “The Fighter” by Gym Class Heroes featuring Ryan Tedder. There are several lines in the song that resonate with me and probably help explain mostly why I do these crazy events.

The first is “give em hell, turn their heads, gonna live life til we’re dead” You see this isn’t a bucket list thing…..don’t believe in those. I do these things because I can….God blessed me with life and health, I feel that am obligated to use the tools he gave me. I suppose in a way this is my offering to him. Some may argue that there are more normal ways to live life but during these races I am more in the moment of living than at any other point of my life. At these events I see mankind at its purest, almost primal, state……striving against forces and demons both internal and external….and winning the battle!

The second is ” give me scars, give me pain, when they say to me, say to me, say to me….there goes a fighter”. I don’t shy from the notion that anyone that participates in something as public as the training and participation in Ironman can become has some sort of personal interest tied to vanity. I take a lot of pride in my accomplishments but also a lot of humility. I don’t pretend to be a super star athlete because I am not. However, in the face of adversity, showing perseverance matters to me. I want to show this perseverance to my family and friends. My actions get a chance to speak louder than words. Respect has to be earned and Ironman certainly delivers scars and pain. Life has given me scars and pain but when I am gone I hope people will remember me and how I responded to those times and what came of them.

The third is “if you fall pick yourself up off the floor, and when your bones can’t take no more, just remember what your here for”….. If there is one thing that I have learned from being in Triathlon the last year is that there are going to be times during the race that humble me, knock me down, challenge my metal, and those times are the good times ;). I get the chance to do something few people would ever even undertake and there are two little girls that make my world go round that are watching. Being a parent to me means that we have an obligation to show our children that anything is possible. However, that doesn’t mean that there wont be times where you don’t think you can answer the bell, but you can and against any odds you can shine! I will have a large K for Kayla on my right hand and a large G on my left hand for Grace during this race to keep them close and keep my mind from staying on the pain that is inevitable.

So should I be fortunate enough to persevere on Saturday May 5 for 2.4 miles of swimming, 112 miles of biking, and 26.2 miles of running I will have that very special and unique opportunity for my name to be called aloud ” Gary Tomlinson of College Station Texas YOU ARE AN IRONMAN” Tears will be flowing but my arms will be lifted up in praise for being given this chance to be The Fighter!

Sky Full of Lighters

Well the day is finally here to pack up and head to the great Northwest……Lake Stevens Ironman 70.3 is just a few days away. Sitting here on the plane listening to the song “Sky Full Of Lighters” and I think I brought the butterflies along with me ;) I tried and tried to make these last few days full of last minute details that might distract me from my own internal doubts and fears. You would think that putting in over 3300 miles of training in 2011 would crush any fears about a race but you would be wrong in his case. Thinking about each segment in what is my first 70.3 triathlon brings different questions. Will the swim be chaos and will I be able to settle in to a comfortable pace? Will I be able to hold back on the bike and not race carelessly ? (my bionic arm should remind me here about that …) What will I have left once the run begins and will the weather work to my advantage since it will be 30+ degrees cooler than back home in Texas? To be clear, I don’t fear the distance because miles are miles and they, and any pain associated with them, shall pass like the seconds on the clock once the 14th gets here. What I do fear or am nervous about is more about how things will unfold on race day!!! I want so badly to perform that day in a way that I am proud of and that makes my “Team Tomlinson” proud! I don’t pretend to think that I am fast or strong or even all that competitive in my age group. But getting to that small moment in time where I put myself out there, testing the metal that is me, pushing my “want to” to the edge of can or cant is my quest. I am not trying to prove anything to anyone but I do feel an obligation to show that anything is possible if you put yourself out there and toe the line. You see for this man, my “sky full of lighters” will only ever be the lights in the eyes of my girls (Kayla, Grace and especially my wife Jill) A couple of weeks back during a training ride it dawned on me that all of this is truly bigger than me but not stronger than us!!! So forgive me if my eyes tear up thinking about the moments during the race that I may see Team Tomlinson cheering me on with their team shirts and signs… At that moment I will be living out my dreams and hopefully inspiring theirs to come true someday as well!

Heat, Miles and a New Tool (Base Performance Electrolyte Salt)

Yesterday was the start of my 17th week of training for my first ever Ironman 70.3 race (Lake Stevens 70.3 on Aug 14th).  To say that it has been an adventure would be putting it mildly.  From the crash during a race on April 30th that gave me 2 plates and 13 screws in my right arm to the oppressive Texas heat, I seem to have learned a lot about myself,  training  and especially nutrition in the last several months.

My training is just about done and the tapering begins next week. These last 30 days  have been the most challenging (752.61 miles of swim, bike run) but also the most rewarding as I see the fruits of my labor mature.  Prior to going into these heavy mile weeks I was really beginning to have doubts in my own ability to compete the way I want to at Lake Stevens.  The early June heat was beating me down and making ordinary workouts seem monumental.   Then things changed when I received a bottle of Base Performance Electrolyte Salt. 

 Many of you know that I am a big believer in the quality of the products from Base Performance.  There is no way that this 41-year-old would subject himself to the tortures of all of this training without thinking about the quality of the products that I put into my body.  However,  It would seem almost impossible to think that the addition of one item could make such a difference in my performance but I honestly believe that it has.  On top of logging the most miles I have ever put in 30 days, I have been able to both increase my endurance and my speed.  My training log shows numerous instances both running and on the bike where I was able to maintain personal best paces for extended periods and even improve during  the latter stages.  It is very exciting to me to see a 3 hour ride in which my pace and power output is maintained and even increased despite the time and the weather conditions wearing me down.  Training takes a toll on the body, but even though I am putting in 6 days a week of training, averaging just over 13 hours a week, I feel pretty good and my results are really starting to show.  I still take the time to take my multivitamins and make sure that I have by amino acids but you wont catch me heading out on a run, ride or even getting into the pool without making sure that I have included the Electrolyte Salt from Base Performance!

Check out all the Base Performance products by clicking on the Base logo on the main page of my blog…. and remember, Be Special Today!!!!

Recovery……..Real and Perceived

The word recovery has a bunch of different definitions but the one that interests me the most is the one that states recovery as “return to an original state”……..and after taking a look at the picture that I got today of my arm, I am not sure that this “original state” will ever be a reality, but then I am not sure that the “state” I am in now isn’t better. Before I go into what these last few weeks have been like I would  be remiss if I didn’t mention how important my amazing wife and kids have been during these difficult  last few weeks.  They continue to amaze me and honor me with their devotion to my “madness” and their belief in me as a person and an athlete.  I train hard so I can race for fun but more importantly I train hard so that I can make my “team” proud on race day!

My right arm, 8 weeks after surgery…Nice Hardware

I went to visit my

Orthopedic Surgeon today and the news in regards to my arm was great.  The range of motion that I have in my right arm is very good and only improving every day.  I would be not entirely truthful if I didn’t admit that I “towed the company line” and failed to let my Dr know the extent of my training these last 8 weeks.  The orders that I had been given were quite simply not orders that I could live with given what my goals and ambitions are for 2011.  Being told to essentially sit on the sidelines seems to go against what has become my identity these last few years.
 
I suppose that I can  measure my “recovery” several different ways, the first being in the picture above.  Bones, held together by stainless steel plates and screws, growing back together.  Strength and range of motion returning to my arm. Scars becoming smaller and less obtrusive.  All of which are real and obvious signs that things are getting better.  Secondly, I can certainly focus in on  the 1100 plus miles that I have logged in the last 7 weeks.  From riding on a trainer insides for 5 weeks, running with a brace on my arm in case of a fall,  or even trying to swim with what seems like only one good arm….the odyssey of miles has been both tough and rewarding.  With all that said, the “recovery” that  I will probably remember much longer in my life will be the one that included the resolve to simply stand up and declare that “I aint ready to quit”.  Early morning runs at 5 am or 3 hour rides in 100 degree heat are sometimes more of a workout for the mind and my resolve than they are for my fitness.  So for me the recovery is real and perceived….
Time is moving quickly and the  Lake Stevens Ironman 70.3 is only 7 short weeks away….doing what I can everyday to “Be Special” 
      

Building Character?

When I was growing up and things were tough my mother used to tell me that I was just building character……my response to such sage wisdom was that I was already a big enough character and wasn’t sure that I needed to get that much better…….

Well, if Mom was still with us I am sure that she would offer up her words of wisdom with confidence today.  This last Saturday, during the Dansby Duo, I crashed my bike and shattered my right arm.  I broke my radius in 3 places and splintered my ulna bone.  The surgery to repair my arm took about 75 minutes and included a plate and 13 screws.  Fortunately, prior to going back for surgery, I had a long conversation with my surgeon about the expectations and consequences of the repair.  There were two decisions we agreed upon.  One was to  make the incisions longer to enable him to just move muscles aside instead of cutting them.  The second was  not putting me in a cast to enable me to have more movement and use of my arm/hand.  This final choice meant that the recovery time would include a lot more discomfort but could potentially get me back on track sooner.

Well,  we are now 60 hours removed from the operating room and I suppose that I am back to building character, plotting how I can get back to training and what it will be like once I do.  I would have to believe that I am for sure out of the Cap Tex Olympic Tri on May 30th but I can see some ray of hope that I can still toe the line at the Lake Stevens 70.3 in August……I should be one hell of a character by then ;)