Ironman Chattanooga 2016

Ironman #25 didn’t quite go as planned, but it’s officially in the record books. Training going into the race went fairly well, all things considered. Thanks to Coach Jason Soria, I felt physically and mentally ready to do battle with others on the course and with myself. Those of you who race know what I mean.

The days leading up to the race went well… a lot of rest, lots of meals at Jason’s Deli, and more rest. I walked around the expo and chatted with a few fellow athletes. It was a relaxing few days. The big talk was the heat the area was experiencing; heat and humidity can be a lethal combo if you’re not used to or ready for it. So, I made sure I was staying hydrated and loading up on BASE salt.

I picked up my bike from TriBike Transport, and took it for a quick spin around the area. Jeff Delavega at Hilltop Bicycles spent a lot of time and energy making sure it was race ready, and I wanted to make sure all was still well. Of course, TBT takes good care of the bikes in transport, so everything was as it should be. I had a minor issue getting my power meter to play nice, but Jeff talked me through resetting it and getting it to read properly.

I didn’t expect to spend my Friday morning blowing up Dr. Maloy’s phone, but I did. Thankfully (as far as racing is concerned), it wasn’t for me. My older daughter hurt her knee in a volleyball game, and she was still having pain. It’s never a good feeling when your kids are hurting, but it’s even harder when you’re hundreds of miles away. I’m grateful for a great sponsor that not only takes care of me and keeps me racing healthy, but is there for my family too. I wouldn’t send them anywhere else.

Saturday, I dropped off my bike and transition bags and went back to the hotel to chill. I kept my feet up, shades drawn, AC blasting, and a movie on – perfect for a pre-race day of hibernation. Unfortunately, I didn’t sleep all that well; my mind was running all over the place. I was much more nervous than usual. I went over and over my race plan – stay calm in the swim, pacing on the bike, nutrition, the run, my transitions and the order I would do things to be most efficient, plan for heat. Over and over and over.

The alarm went off at 4am – Go Time. I tried to eat, but I couldn’t. My stomach was in a knot…nerves. I gathered up my stuff and headed down to transition. I was right on time with everything just as I had planned. I hopped on the bus over to the swim start and made my way down to the water, chatting with a few guys along the way. Next thing I know, we’re in the water and the gun goes off – Boom!

The swim for me is always the biggest stressor. My goal is simple – don’t be last. We take off, and I pass a guy. Then, I see one ahead that I can chase and probably catch. That never happens! Within sight of the last buoy, I put on a little surge, and then I was out – not last! Small victory, but I’ll take it. 55:39, not great, but not awful either. Onto the bike, my favorite part.

Transition went smoothly, just like I visualized beforehand. I headed out and got settled in. Nutrition time. Just a few words of advice from 25 times on this Ironman roller coaster – have a plan B and even a plan C because you just never know what might happen on race day. Just because you train and practice with something doesn’t guarantee it’ll work on race day. Well, even though I’ve consumed gallons of Gatorade Endurance throughout my racing career and daily training, on this day, my stomach said, “No, thank you, sir. Try again.” Refusing to listen, I kept pounding the Gatorade, only to have it come right back up. So, about 90 minutes in, going back through the filing cabinet of 20 years of racing experience, I moved onto plan B. BASE salt, water, Clif Bloks. I don’t train with Clif Bloks, but they were on the course, they tasted good, they were easy to chew, and they stayed down. About an hour later, I felt my body coming back around. First crisis addressed.

Another PSA, if you’ll indulge me. Many Ironman competitors are there to finish, quite a few to race, some trying to qualify for Kona, and some (pros) to make a living. Regardless of which category you fall into, please be courteous and aware when on the course. Stay to the right when not passing (this is a rule), hold your line, and for goodness sake, please pull over at aid stations. Stopping in the middle of the road is dangerous – to the person stopped, to the cyclists not stopping and trying to ride through, and to the volunteers there. Keep a path clear – it’s safer for all involved. I saw some pretty near collisions at some of the aid stations, and I almost plowed through someone who stopped in the middle of the road, then turned 90 degrees (basically blocking a lane with his bike).

Overall, I wasn’t thrilled with my bike time – 4:51:40 – but it’s tough riding alone, not seeing anyone most of the day. Coupled with the early nutrition issues and the tough day, it was the best I could do. I felt like I paced myself pretty well and did OK with my nutrition, but I could feel the 4800 feet of climbing.

I pulled into transition, and as expected, my legs were pretty stiff. I grabbed my hat, race belt, shoes, and a little sunscreen, and off on the run I went. The first 1.5 miles is uphill. My legs were shaky, but I told myself, “Just give it time.” I took a gel and started pounding BASE salt. Finally, I found a rhythm, which I knew was not my planned race pace, but it was steady and I felt I could hold it. About 5-6 miles in, a volunteer yelled at me, “14!” I kept running, then processed what she said. I paused, looked back, and yelled, “Did you say I’m 14th? As in 1-4?”
Her: “Yes!”
Me: “14?! Really?”
Her:  “YES! Go!”

As I continued on, I thought, “What? How?” I knew I wasn’t running that well, but she was sure. Alarm bells were sounding in my head, because I actually had a chance to place well, but the legs weren’t exactly peppy. “Please run well,” I kept telling myself. So, I changed my plan a bit – push as hard as I can, but only what I can sustain. Lots of water, salt, and whatever calories I could grab at every aid station. Run hard uphill, smart downhill. My quads were totally gone, and downhill was killing me. Just keep moving forward.

Surprisingly, the miles flew by, and I felt like I had a handle on my body. I don’t recall exactly, but around 16-17, I got passed. I chased him as best I could, but I couldn’t hang on. I knew my legs were close to being totally done, and I had several miles of big hills ahead. I let him go, and I feared more were closing in. I ran pushing as hard as I could, hoping for the best, fearing the worst. About one mile later, I passed another pro who was walking. Back into 14th, but still not feeling safe. Finally, I crested the top of the last big hill. I knew that by the time I reached the bottom, I’d have about a mile left. I had two choices – ease down and be kind to the quads or set my jaw and go. Well, since I don’t back down from a challenge, I decided to go for it. After a blur of pain, I reached the bottom, glanced back and finally felt confident I’d hold my place. No one else was in sight, and I knew I could hold on for one more mile. I really felt like I was running in the clouds.

I didn’t look at my watch at all on the run. I knew it was slower than planned, and I didn’t need a constant negative reinforcement of that fact. I had no idea what my finish time would be. So, I saw the finish chute, straightened up as best I could, and cruised in at 9:26:25 (run time of 3:33:57). I’m not thrilled with the time, but I am quite happy with the 14th overall finish.I was shocked to see how many people were milling around the finish area with race bibs on. Lots of DNF’s. It was a brutal day out there, and I spent most of it alone. I was glad to be done.

From there, I made my way, slowly but surely, back to my hotel. I collapsed on the floor, forced myself to eat and drink a little, then cleaned up, and walked back down to the finish line to cheer for a while. Then… Sunday Night Football, big juicy hamburger, fries (2 orders), and beer…I think I earned it.

 

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Injury, Aging, and Ironman 70.3

So, in the interest of full disclosure, we need to back up a few months. In late January, I started having some pain in my left foot. At first it was just a little sore in the mornings, but once I was up and moving, the pain went away. As time went on, the pain lingered a little longer each day. Part of Ironman training and racing is pain… plain and simple. The trick is to figure out whether it’s just soreness/pushing past your comfort zone or actual pain/injury. Whether I was being stubborn or just flat out in denial, I kept telling myself it was just another ache that I could push through.

One afternoon, I finished up a ride on my Computrainer, changed, and headed out for a short run. Well, it was in fact a very short run. I didn’t even make it to the end of my street before I turned around and limped /hopped (and contemplated crawling) back home. That was it; I had to admit it. I had to say it out loud. I called Amy at work and said, “My foot’s not just sore; I’m hurt.” I should have been thankful that at 43, having raced for almost 20 years, I’d stayed injury free. But no… I was mad. I was freaked out.

The voice of reason, Amy simply said, “Call Dr. Maloy.” I knew I needed to, but that meant telling another person and making the injury that much more real. Of course, Dr. Maloy told me to relax, and got me on her schedule quickly. She confirmed what I suspected; I had plantar faciitis. Of course, she reassured me that it was not the end of the world or end of my racing career. But, I would have to follow her instructions, take it easy, and I would get back to running (heck, walking) pain-free soon. I’m not sure her and my definitions of “soon” were the same, but I trust Dr. Maloy implicitly. So, I did as she said.

The next call was to Jason Soria, my coach. One more time having to utter the words, “I’m injured.” Ugh. Now, I know that there are FAR worse things that someone can be going through. It was a foot injury, not paralysis or some terminal disease. In the grand scheme of things, it wasn’t that big of a deal. Nevertheless, each time I had to admit that I was hurt was hard.

Also a voice of reason, Jason reassured me that there was no need to throw in the towel on my season. He asked if I had made an appointment at SVSS yet. Then, he addressed the changes to my training. We would make adjustments to keep me fit and focus on letting my foot heal. He modified my schedules, kept close tabs on me, reminded me (frequently) not to run and not to worry.

I made routine trips to SVSS, Dr. Maloy worked on my foot, and I followed her stretching instructions at home. Fast forward to April, and (finally) after a few mornings of waking and walking with no pain, I decided (after consulting Dr. M and Jason) it was time to put the foot to the test out on the road. I was so thankful and relieved to find that it actually felt OK. The next morning, still no pain when I awoke. Good signs. Whew!

Then, I panicked. It had been literally months since I had run, and I was just a couple of weeks away from a 70.3. I contemplated withdrawing, but Jason reassured me that I’d be fine. My fitness was great; I just needed to get some miles in my legs. I decided to race a local sprint – the Wiki Wiki Man Triathlon – to celebrate my 43rd birthday and as a checkpoint to see how I felt running off the bike in race conditions. I hoped to do well, but with the race being a Regional Championship and me being more of a long-distance racer (who hadn’t been running), I was less focused on winning than on racing and feeling good.

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It was a good day. I felt good on the swim, I biked well, and then I managed to hold onto my lead and take the overall win. As an added bonus, I was treated to a “Happy Birthday” chorus at the finish line.

Most importantly, it gave me confidence that I was ready for Galveston the next week.

Race week, I felt great. Amy was out of town for a work retreat the first part of the week. She got home, I worked a shift, and then hit the road to Galveston. The hustle-bustle of the busy week made it fly by. The storms en route, coupled with Houston traffic, made for a long ride, but I made it to Galveston in decent time.

I stayed pretty low key once in town… checked in, made my rounds through the expo, attended the Pro meeting, etc. I got to bed early the night before the race, and on race morning, I was ready to roll. I got to site on time, had plenty of time to warm up, and then… I had my worst swim ever. I still don’t why, and simply put, I’m beyond frustrated.

I was demoralized when I got out of the water. But, I told myself can’t go any lower than last Pro, so I might as well fight. I rode the bike like there was no run afterwards, and I managed to move up 7 spots. After the bike, I hit the run course and ran has hard as I could from start to finish. It was an OK plan, but I probably should have addressed nutrition a bit better. I was too focused on just running flat out and lost more weight than I should have. I was down 12 pounds after the finish (and I weighed after drinking two bottles of water). I think I might have run better had I hydrated better, but overall I felt great on the run. In hindsight, likely due to nutrition, I just couldn’t get legs to turn over faster. I managed to move up 8 more spots to finish 17th Male Pro.

Overall, I’m bummed because my swim meant I was out of the mix before I was even out of the water. I’m very happy with my run though. With very little run training (two weeks) and to average 6:30’s was a good confidence boost. So, back to the drawing board, more time in the pool, and three weeks to go before I head to the Woodlands for Ironman Texas.

In spite of being disappointed in my finish, I’m beyond thankful that I’m running pain-free again. I couldn’t say that without my amazing sponsor, Dr. Lezlie Maloy of Spring Valley Spine and Sportscare. Jason Soria not only kept my training moving, but he also coached my head. I probably would have tried to run anyway had it not been for the two of them.

Houston traffic reared it’s ugly head on my drive home too. When I finally made it home, I was in a pretty foul mood. But, then I was reminded that winning the race isn’t everything.

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Challenge

I’ve made a small change to my race schedule, and I’m taking on a different challenge. Instead of racing a half marathon that I had planned for the first weekend in April, I’m going to walk. Those who know me well know that I’d rather run 20 miles than walk 2, but this walk is something that is important to me. It’s the 2015 DFW Walk to End Lupus.

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This is my little sister, Megan. She was kind of an early twelfth birthday present. Megan was diagnosed with Lupus in 2008 when she was pregnant with her youngest child. She had struggled with various issues for years. Megan’s gall bladder was removed when she was a teenager, she endured countless GI issues and tests, but it wasn’t until the stress of the pregnancy caused the perfect storm of issues that she was formally diagnosed.

I’m in the medical field, and I’ve run calls on all kinds of patients. Little shocks me anymore. Amy and I went to visit Megan in the hospital while she was having problems early in her pregnancy. She was on the OB/GYN floor at Methodist Mansfield. We stepped off the elevator, turned the corner to her room, and there was a crash cart sitting outside her door. That literally stopped me in my tracks. What was going on with her causing cardiac issues? Several hospitalizations later, we would later find out that it was Lupus.

Megan takes good care of herself; she eats a heathy, balanced diet and exercises regularly. She works hard to keep herself healthy. She has a husband, three children, and a full-time job that need her attention.

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So, when Megan has days where the simple act of getting dressed takes every ounce of energy she can muster, it’s heartbreaking. It’s not fair. She doesn’t complain though. Megan soldiers forward, digging into whatever reserves she can find, so that she doesn’t miss out on getting the kids to school, attending their various activities, or getting herself to work. Most people probably don’t even notice, but those who know her well can see the hurt behind her big blue eyes or in her forced smile. By all accounts, she doesn’t look sick, but the Lupus rages on nevertheless.

Lupus is a chronic auto-immune disease that can damage many different parts of the body. Basically, the immune system gets confused and attacks the body’s organs and tissues. It is a very complex disease, and it does not affect everyone the same. Treating Lupus is tricky too. Immunosuppressants are often used to limit the damage the immune system does, but sometimes the immune system does need to attack things – like cold and flu bugs. It’s a delicate balancing act that has left Megan on quite the cocktail of medicines. The first time I saw her toss back a handful of horsepills, I almost gagged for her. I know that in this day and age, with as many medical advances as there have been, that someday a cure for Lupus can be found.

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On April 4, I will join Megan at Lone Star Park and Walk to End Lupus. I’m walking and raising funds for Lupus research. I want Megan and the 1.5 Million Americans who suffer from Lupus to have more good days than bad. I want to find a cure! If you can support our team with a donation, that would be awesome. Prayers, positive thoughts, and good vibes are also appreciated!

2015 DFW Walk for Lupus – Team Megan

Know Why You’re Out There

I’m often asked how I can make myself get up at 4am, even if we ran calls all night at the fire station, to get on the treadmill, on the bike, or in the pool. I’m asked how I can run in the pouring rain or freezing cold. I’m asked how I can mentally deal with racing alone (which seems to happen an awful lot). My answer every time is that I know why I’m out there. Rest assured, I don’t like 4am any more than anyone else, and if you don’t already know, I hate the cold. Bring on 100* temps any day. That said; I know what my goals are, and they are what motivates me.

Sometimes, you don’t have to search for your goals; they’re obvious. This past weekend, our rescue diver crew at the fire station was dispatched on a call for a drowning victim at the lake. The water was 50-ish degrees, murkey, with dangerous bottom conditions (including a car’s fuel system). Plain and simple, it sucked, but we knew why we were out there. We were this guy’s only hope, and even when it became evident we weren’t going to find him alive, we became his family’s only hope for closure. So, turn after turn, after barely warming up to the point that we could finally feel our hands again, we each got back into the lake to search. We each took our turn, even our Chief, because if one of us skipped a turn, someone else had to go back in sooner. We had each other’s backs. We knew why we were out there.

Just like in my career as a firefighter, I didn’t start this sport to be patted on the back or for accolades. I started racing during a time when Ironman was pretty much an unknown, and when I saw it for the first time, it gave me goosebumps. I said to myself, “I’ve got to do that. It’s the challenge I’ve been looking for all my life.” Don’t get me wrong; I love to race and am competitive. The awards are nice, but they are simply a product of hard work and pouring your heart and soul into something that truly touches the deep part inside you where most people are afraid to open and look. But, doing so is the only way the magic you see at the finish happens and why people who have not raced won’t ever fully understand. You have to get through the training process, the pushing yourself to limits you didn’t know you could, and the racing itself – with whatever challenges race-day brings – for yourself to truly understand.

So, how do I do it? Because after almost 17 years of racing, it still gives me goosebumps and makes the hair on my neck stand up when I hear the National Anthem play, or when I watch Julie Moss crawl to the finish line, or when I think about Amy and Monkey waiting for me in the finish chute (back when they let families run in with you at Ironman). I can’t give you your motivation; no one can. It’s up to you to find it. When you do, you’ll get up at 4am…because you’ll know why you’re out there.

It’s OK to Lose

In case I haven’t bragged on my children enough, I really am proud of them. All three have all found a passion to pursue, and even if they don’t stay with the current one(s), they’ve enjoyed the efforts of their endeavors enough that I feel confident that they’ll always find a dream to chase. I worry some though, because they are growing up in a society where everyone has to be a winner because society doesn’t want anyone to feel the hurt of a loss. The appropriately named trophy generation doesn’t understand that the real world really does involve a fair amount of winning and losing. Whether it’s on a sport’s field or in the workplace, it’s a reality. And, I worry because I’ve been successful in sports. No, I don’t win every race, not even close, but we do have a lot of medals, plaques, and trophies around the house. I have always tried to convey that I work hard, train hard, and race hard, and sometimes, it pays off with a win. I try to let them see that when a race doesn’t go my way, I’m disappointed, but I’m OK. I also try to tell them about the times when the race did go my way, and it just wasn’t good enough for the win. What I hope is that they realize that a loss doesn’t have to be a bad thing. In fact, it can even be positive and motivating.

This weekend, Monkey and her volleyball team had their first tournament of the club season. She has a great team, and 8 out of the 11 returned from last year. They really have a great chemistry, they have two great coaches who they admire and respect, and they have high expectations for themselves this season. Saturday was a great day for them. They had a few cobwebs to dust off early in the day, but they listened to their coaches, made quick, smart adjustments, and rolled through the day with success – 6-0 in pool play and into the gold bracket with a first-round bye on Sunday.

I try not to be “that parent” that critiques and coaches every move she makes. For starters, we pay good money to her coaches to do that. I know that she doesn’t need to hear all of the “get lower,” “move your feet faster,” or “hit your target” comments from us all the time. She needs to hear that we have confidence in her; she needs to know that we are proud of her no matter what happens.

Saturday evening brought the news that they would play one of two teams from one of the more “feared” clubs in the region, and one of those teams was a boys’ team. (I’ll save my comments about boys playing in a girls’ league for another day.) She was nervous, but she believes in herself and in her team, so she was confident that they would hold their own. But, I know the look that she had in her eyes well… the look of “I know what I need to do. Please, God, let me do it. Please don’t let me screw up.” So, I try to coach her psyche… and let me tell you how challenging that can be with a teenage girl.

We talked about visualizing plays:

  • “What does this play look like?”
  • “If this happens, I do that.”
  • “If it doesn’t work, I try again and make this change.”

She was in good spirits, ready to play, and really anxious to take down the boys.

Unfortunately, that’s not how the day played out on Sunday. That said; by all accounts, Monkey had a fabulous match. (I was at work, so I had to get my updates from Amy and others.) Monkey’s a setter, so she doesn’t hit much, and she had a corner-shot kill in the first set. (That was a BIG deal to her.) She served well, she set well, and she made smart plays. She showed that she has been listening to her coaches and is learning to read the defense, turning that into two deep setter dumps that won points.

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Nevertheless, those big brown eyes were teary with disappointment at the outcome. When I asked her if there was anything she would change about the way she played if she had it to do over again, she mentioned two plays. (Amy could only even remember one of them.) I asked the same question about the team as a whole, and while there were a few mistakes here and there (and some bad calls from what I understand), even she agreed, the team played really well. When I said, “Well, then that’s success,” she looked at me like I had two heads. Sometimes, you can have the performance of your life, and it’s still not going to put you on top…and that’s OK. It’s OK to lose. Let it motivate you. Let it push you. Let it make you better. And trust me, the victory will be even sweeter.

We talked more, and when she headed off to school today, she was in much better spirits about the outcome of the tournament. They had a great showing; things just didn’t go their way. So, when she heads back to the gym tonight, she can do so with her head held high. She worked hard. They worked hard. They can take the momentum from the many things they did well, work on some of the mistakes, and because the hurt is still fresh, push themselves to even higher levels. It’s going to be a fun season to watch!

#YOLO

So, when my thirteen-year-old daughter started citing, “YOLO,” as a reason for doing something (generally something that had landed her in trouble), the phrase and it’s application with teens/young adults today drove me nuts. YOLO is not an excuse for not doing homework, ignoring requests from her mother to fold the laundry or clean the bathroom, and the list goes on. In the last few weeks though, I’ve started to realize that she may have gotten some of the YOLO mentality from me. I wasn’t the best student, and Amy can definitely vouch for the fact that I don’t always do the laundry she hints that I should do, but that’s not what I mean.

In the late 90’s and early 00’s, I was actively pursuing a career as a professional triathlete. From the moment I first saw a Kona broadcast, I was hooked. That’s where I wanted to be, and as I got into the sport and loved it, I wanted to make money doing it. It wasn’t easy, and it wasn’t always fun. In 2001, when Monkey came along, I was working part-time waiting tables and training full-time. Against their better judgement, Amy and her parents supported my endeavors, and instead of sending the baby to daycare (which frankly would have cost way more than the peanuts I was making), I quit my job and stayed home with her. Money was tight, and if it hadn’t been for my in-laws, we would have never made it. But, I pursued tri’s and made a run at going Pro. I didn’t know what I didn’t know, but I sure learned a lot along the way… about racing and about myself. After a few years of trying to burst onto the pro scene, I realized that it was time to hang up the gear and get a real job. I wasn’t thrilled about walking away from racing, but I had tried, my family had supported me, and it was time to move on.

The next few years, I was in school… to become a Paramedic, to become a Firefighter. Finally, I had my ideal career. I could have the action that I liked, and the schedule allowed me to get back into training and racing. I’m lucky; I really am. I like my job. I’ll admit that I don’t like 3am calls, especially when they end up being nothing, but it really is a career I enjoy. That said; I’ve caught a lot of flack over the years about not trying to climb the career ladder more aggressively. I’ve taken promotional tests a couple of times, and the last time, I actually studied consistently. Going into the test, I told Amy and my co-workers that I’d given it about an 80% effort… and I scored about 80%. One person said (and many others probably thought), “Well, you should have given it 100% effort.” Maybe so, but…

I’ve taken the path I have, choosing to balance a career that allows me to support my family with time to experience things I’m passionate about. Racing pro again has been fun. I’ve been able to race alongside the best of the best. Some days have gone well, and others not so much. But honestly, I wouldn’t trade any of it…even the bad days…for not being able to do it.

Another person asked me why I don’t get another job for my days off. Well, I guess you could say training/racing is the other job, since that’s what I spend my time doing. I’m also a Dad, so while I get my workouts in, it’s before the kids get up or after they’re off to school, and before I pick them up. I go to as many of their activities and sporting events as I can. Family time is also important. I can make that work with training; I couldn’t if I were gone working another job. That’s not to criticize those who do. It’s simply a choice I’ve made. I could have a bigger house or nicer cars, but those aren’t the things that matter most to me.

In the last few weeks, so many people I know have had their lives changed dramatically. Amy Marsh, a top-level Pro Ironman triathlete, was diagnosed with AML (leukemia) two days before Christmas, started chemo on Christmas Eve, and finished that round on New Year’s Eve. She’s one of the nicest people you’d ever meet. She was happy and healthy, gearing up for more great racing in 2015, and in an instant, her world changed. Phil Zetnik, owner of The Runner in Arlington, died suddenly Saturday at the age of 49. He was happy and healthy, and again, a really great guy. Apparently, it was just his time.

Sometimes, life isn’t fair, and you just never know what tomorrow will hold. So, when my day comes, while I’m sure I’ll have some regrets (who wouldn’t?), I’ll know that I lived life. I have an amazing family, a great job, and rewarding hobbies. I’ve been able to pursue my passions. I didn’t start it because of some catchy hashtag, but it sums it up. #youonlyliveonce

SVSS

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Once again, I’m happy to announce that I have partnered for another year with Dr. Maloy and the team at Spring Valley Spine and Sportscare! It really is great to have a doctor, flanked by an amazing team of professionals, monitoring my overall well-being. Dr. Maloy really “gets” athletes because she is one. A few of her athletic accomplishments include an Ironman 70.3, a couple of “Goofy” (half-marathon Saturday, full marathon Sunday), and even a “Dopey” (10K Friday, half-marathon Saturday, full marathon Sunday). As such, she understands the stresses athletes are under. She juggles her time at her practice, time at home with her family, and time to train. She knows how an injury – or even just being overly sore – can hamper training or even daily life. With that in mind, she designed her practice to take care of athletes..with a variety of ways to provide that care.

Chiropractic care and ART are definitely the headliners for me. Keeping me loose and helping work out the muscle soreness after intense training or racing allows me to keep training, racing, and feeling good. I’ll be honest; I was very skeptical of ART at first. Years back, I had a bad sports massage experience at a race expo, and I swore I’d never do that again. ART sounded a little too much like that sports massage. Dr. Maloy asked me to trust her, and really, how could I not? She had never led me astray and had always provided great care. Well, one treatment, and she made a believer out of me. I had been struggling with a tight neck for weeks, and she resolved it almost immediately. Now, when I feel that nagging something coming on, I don’t stress; I know she will take care of it. When my wife pulled her quad trying to relive her teens, ummm… I mean playing soccer, I sent her straight to SVSS for some ART.

Dr. Maloy knows my goals, keeps tabs on me, and helps me rest and recover quicky. Because of Dr. Maloy’s excellent care and guidance, I have managed to stay injury free. Not all of my fellow athletes are as lucky, but even those nursing injuries or recovering from surgery have options. SVSS has an Alter-G treadmill, which utilizes a concept called unweighting to reduce the weight-bearing impact of running. I won’t be able to do it justice, but definitely check out the Alter-G page on the SVSS site for more details. She also has a Computrainer lab for use for rehab or just for a good intense ride without the challenges of riding outside around the metroplex.

Dr. Maloy has partnered with some top-notch professionals to round our her practice’s offerings:

  • Coaching – Jason Soria is the owner and head coach of Team Imagine Sports (and my coach) is a USAT Certified Triathlon Coach, Certified Personal Trainer, and an accomplished Ironman triathlete and marathoner. Working with Jason has been a great experience. He has pushed me to limits I didn’t know were there, and he has helped me achieve some great results, including my 6th place finish at Ironman Louisville.
  • Sports Nutrition Consulting – Eve Pearson, MBA, RD, and Kelsey Hampton, RD are on-hand for specialized dietary and nutrition consultations. I have personally worked with Eve, and she worked hard to understand the craziness of my schedule and provide dietary suggestions to improve my nutrition and performance.
  • Accupuncture
  • Sports Massage

As you can see, I have a host of reasons to be glad to work with Dr. Maloy and her team. I look forward to a great 2015 together.

New Year, New Sponsor – Marathon Appliance

Happy 2015, all. I’m thrilled to announce that I have a new sponsor, Marathon Appliance. Some might ask, “Appliance repair? How’s that going to help you with your Ironman training?” Well, there are so many things in my day-to-day life that can (and often do) interfere with my ability to train. Amy says I’ve made an art of juggling my training with my work schedule, her work/travel schedule, taking/picking up the girls to/from school, helping with homework, making dinner, shuttling to/from the kids’ sports, and so on. I usually have a Plan B too, as “life happens” quite a bit around here. When “life happens” involves a major appliance going out, that does more than throw a wrench in my training…it brings the day to a grinding halt. And let’s be honest, the Pat vs. Home Repairs record is fairly lopsided, and not in my favor. So, when Rob Jones approached me about appliance repair as a sponsor, I jumped at the opportunity. I’ve known Rob for years, and he’s a great, stand-up guy. He’s an accomplished runner and Ironman triathlete…and he’s engaged to a firefighter, so he keeps good company! Knowing I’ve got him at the ready in case of any appliance issue gives me (and my wife) peace of mind.

What is Marathon Appliance, you ask? I’ll let Rob tell you…

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Marathon Appliance is owned and operated by Rob Jones, and serves most of the Dallas/Fort Worth area. Having 21 years in the appliance service industry, we strive to give fast, efficient repairs at an affordable price. We use today’s technology to our advantage from scheduling, diagnostics and invoicing.  We want to set the standard high for the service industry.
 
Marathon Appliance got its name from a passion of mine. It just fit! Being a runner & Ironman triathlete, I’m very passionate about all I do. My company is something I want to reflect not only who I am as a person, but  to give back to the community that has helped me through some of the toughest times.
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I look forward to a great partnership, Rob. Thanks!

New Year’s Resolutions

Generally speaking, I’m not a big fan of making New Year’s Resolutions. Don’t confuse that with setting goals. I’m definitely a proponent of goal-setting, but it seems to me that New Year’s Resolutions are mostly thrown by the wayside by the end of January. Case in point… right now, the local gyms are bursting at the seams, and it’s almost impossible to find an open treadmill or swim lane. So, I’ll avoid my gym for a few weeks, and around February 1, the crowds will thin out, and I can get back to my normal routine.

All that being said; I definitley have goals for the year, and they include:

  • Shedding my “winter coat” (also known as the extra 10 lbs I gained eating all the yummy holiday treats)
  • PR Half Marathon
  • Place top 5 at Ironman Texas
  • Place top 5 Ironman 70.3 Galveston
  • Blog more regularly (should be easier with this new site)

As of right now, my 2015 race schedule looks like:

  • 1/25 – Lake Benbrook Half Marathon
  • 4/4 – Irving Half Marathon
  • 4/26 – Ironman 70.3 Galveston
  • 5/17 – Ironman Texas
  • 6/28 – Ironman 70.3 BSLT
  • 9/5 – PrairieMan 1/2 Iron Distance
  • 9/27 – Ironman Chattanooga
  • 11/14 – Long Course National Du Championship (Tx Motor Speedway)

I hope everyone has a great 2015, wherever your passions may take you.

See you at the races!

Tri Dallas Events – The Grand Weekend

Tri Dallas Events – The Grand Weekend

I finally had a weekend off when I could race a local race, so I looked to see what races were going on in the area. It had been a while since I raced out at Joe Pool, so when I saw that Tri Dallas Events (TDE) had The Grand Weekend races (formerly Metroplex Sprint Triathlon) going on, I decided to sign up.

Racing locally is always nice. I know exactly when to get up, how to get there, and what to expect. I rolled into transition around 5:30am, parked, picked up my packet, got body marked, and headed into transition to get my spot set up. It was great to see some familiar faces – some I see regularly, like the SVSS crew, and some I don’t see as often. Friend and fellow GPFD firefighter, Lewis and I went for a quick warm up jog. During the pre-race meeting, we saw the clouds getting darker, noticed the wind was picking up, and saw the water starting to get choppy. I knew that would mean wind on the bike. We also decided to blame fellow SVSS athlete, Heather, for the rain. Even she owned up to the fact that she took the rain with her to her last several races.
After the pre-race meeting, we all headed down to the water and waited for our waves to be called into the water. The water was very choppy, but thankfully, the hydrilla hasn’t gotten out of hand yet. The gun went off, and I settled into a rhythm, hanging with the first couple of swimmers. I did manage to gag on water that hit the back of my throat weird, so I’m sure I looked like a spaz in the water for a few seconds. Beyond that, the sprint swim was over pretty quickly…7:15.
I cruised through tranisiton without incident and headed out on the bike. It was nice to be able to leave the park and think that I would not have to contend with the dam and the vortex of terror that occurs during strong winds. However, the bridges on Lakeridge were not any better. Between the crosswinds and the slick roads from the intermittent rain, it was a tad harrowing at times. Nevertheless, I made a charge toward the front to catch the guy who got out of the water first. I cruised along, pushing 28mph at points, thankful for how well my Trek Speed Concept handles in less than ideal conditions. By the turn around, I had a comfortable lead. I kept the hammer down, to make sure I had some comfort room for the run.
I made it to transition with a bike time of 28:23 (25.1 mph),  over 2 minutes and almost 2mph faster than the next bike split (have I mentioned how much I like my bike?). I set out on the run, trying to maintain or extend my lead. Feeling good and gaining strength from the great crowd cheering, I pushed the pace. On the heels of an Ironman, a sprint tri, especially the 5K, goes by really quickly. Before I could even think about my race too much, I was heading towards the finish. I held my lead and took the overall win.
Just as exciting was hanging around the finish to see fellow SVSS athletes Jason Maloy and Heather Tomlinson clinch age group wins. All in all, it was a fun day. Kudos to Tri Dallas Events and Brad Davidson for putting on a quality event. Thanks to Dr. Maloy and SVSS for keeping me healthy and cheering me on, and big thanks to Richardson Bike Mart for keeping my bike running smooth.