Monday, September 22, 2014

On Any Given Sunday

Any Given Sunday is a classic movie where Al Pachino delivers a great inspirational speech about fighting for victory and moving on in life and about living about not giving up and that every inch of forward progress matters.

I don't know what to say really. Three minutes to the biggest battle of our professional lives all comes down to today. Either we heal as a team or we are going to crumble.  Inch by inch play by play till we're finished. We are in hell right now, gentlemen believe me and we can stay here and get the shit kicked out of us or we can fight our way back into the light.  We can climb out of hell.  One inch, at a time.......On this team, we fight for that inch. On this team, we tear ourselves, and everyone around us to pieces for that inch.  We CLAW with our finger nails for that inch.  Cause we know when we add up all those inches that's going to make the fucking difference between WINNING and LOSING between LIVING and DYING.......I'll tell you this in any fight it is the guy who is willing to die who is going to win that inch.  And I know if I am going to have any life anymore it is because, I am still willing to fight, and die for that inch because that is what LIVING is.  The six inches in front of your face.

This past Sunday I participated in the Oktoberfest Tri.  It was a 2 week build up to a race like no other I had participated in and not in the good sense.  To say I have been busy would be an understatement.  It is budget season at work and our first round was due.  Having a new staff under me put a larger than normal amount of work on my plate to get it done and turn it into our corporate office by the deadline.  During this time, I missed 4 days of training.  4 days of biking that I will never get back again.  As I look towards IM Fortaleza, I know my greatest chance for improving my time from IM Boulder will be on the bike.  Missing those 4 days in two weeks less than 50 days out is certainly not going to help me.   I also met up with some friends from my past.
I had a visit from Belial ~ The Demon of Guilt.  He first made an appearance in Demons~Page 2.  He reminded me that I am letting myself down by not training.  That I can rationalize, be busy with work  , look out at the cold and snow all I want and I can complain that I am too tired, too hungry, it's too dark, too anything to train and I can skip it.  I can crawl up in a ball and go under the covers and hide.  Hide from my responsibilities of getting my ass ready and in shape for Fortaleza.  As I miss each training opportunity to make myself better, I hear him in my mind on how I am letting myself, my family & friends, my coach down.  Doesn't matter that you've completed 2 IM's in 8 months.  Right now you are not training as you are supposed to and you are letting everyone down.  I hear his cackle ringing in my ears as he mocks me, "Two weeks is like a lifetime, you'll never get those training days back, you are failing".  It has been great having Belial hang around the last few weeks.  A week after he arrived a second visitor came knocking on my door......
It was Cortisol ~ The Demon of Stress.  He hadn't been around since What am I doing?  Cortisol paired up with Belial as the guilt of missing training fueled stress.  The thought of missing training made me think and believe I am out of shape and getting pudgy.  That I might need a B Cup for my Bro,  to notch another hole in my belt and to let out my pants.  After all I did miss 4 training sessions in two weeks and 9 since Boulder IM 8 weeks ago.  How am I ever gonna manage to cross the finish line? (Yes, sarcasm)  The Stress Demon has been present quite regularly never wanting to really leave me alone.  My eating, training,  sleeping, recovery, stretching habits have all gone arry.  Headaches have been pretty regular where typically in my life they are non existent.  Yesterday, I even forced myself to take 2 aspirins, which rarely ever occurs.  To end the week my Exec. Admin Asst approached me and said she was worried that I may burn out.  Me burn out?!?!?!  I never thought such a thing was possible till I heard her words ringing in my ears.

Lately, dare I say, in my head, I feel like I am moving around like a rickety "old Man".  My neck hasn't stopped hurting for months. (At least it stopped cracking.)  My hip has felt out of whack, My leg muscles feel tight, my lower back aches just trying to straighten up.  Heading into Steamboat Sprint Tri 5 weeks ago I felt fast and spry.  My spirit was light and I was jovial.  A huge contrast to waking up this past Sunday morning to head to the Union Reservoir and the Oktoberfest Tri.  The pieces just didn't fit into place on Sunday like most race mornings for me.  I was in a decent mood but not carefree like most race days.  There was the gloom or heavy feeling hanging in the air that nothing can/will go right.  I had forgotten to get my race packet earlier in the week.   I had to now get it race morning, where there will be a late fee charge.  I saw Kenny and Sasha as we entered the expo area as well as the loooong lines.  I asked them if they would be kind enough to take my bike into the transition area as I was fearful I would get a horrible spot since I first had to wait on the packet pick up line.  I was psyched they did and I got on line.  Well, after about 10  minutes of the slow moving line I looked up to realize I was actually on the porta potty line and not the packet pick up line.  Yep, this is how my day is going to be I thought.  Off this line and onto another.  I get my race number and head into the TA.  After a few rounds of walking up and down rows of bikes I finally spot where they racked Bella.  I set up my transition area and head off to wait on another line to get body marked and then I go on another line to get my racing chip.   Finally done with the last line of the day well am I?  Nope, I can't get my racing chip because my bib was by my bike and I needed it on me.  So off the line and get my bib and back on the line.  And so the morning goes.  And I think to myself....
....please Lord don't let me come in last place.               

Nok, Nok.  Who is there??  It's me......
...Nok "The Drowning Demon"Demons~Page 1  I, at times, have been scared shitless of Nok during this process of learning how to swim.  I have started each race with him in mind over the last year and I prepared myself how to deal with him and not allow him to get me.  Then there was the Boulder Sprint, I tried to start in the middle of the pack with Ken and bailed out after about 50 meters of getting hammered, kicked, punched and frustrated.  I haven't tried that again since.  Today I did make my way towards the front of the swim group.  I usually like to go to the side away from everyone but today I couldn't.  I was trapped and we didn't even start the race yet.  I looked left and right and there was no where to go.  I didn't want to start at the back of the pack.  This is a sprint.  I truly felt stuck, in more ways then just this one.  The horn sounded, I started my garmin and I was off.  I was sandwiched.  Caught between the mass of people on my right and a rather large guy on my left.  Keep swimming, keep kicking, keep moving.  I heard Coach EK in my head about the story of people that stop when they panic and people crash and swim right over them.  A few races ago that would have been me, but not on this Sunday.  I was not in my comfort zone.  I felt my heart rate go through the roof.  I was not in my zen zone.  I had no pattern to my breathing, to my stroke, my kick.  I was just trying to find some space to move.  Before I realized it I was past the 1st buoy and rounding the second.  How could that be possible??  I keep feeling people touching my feet.  Not like Susan at Rally Sport touching my feet in the pool but an I am gonna swim over your ass and drown you if you don't get outta my way touching my feet.  Keep moving, don't stop.  I hear you EK, I'm not stopping!!

Finally, my breath slowed down and my stroke had some sort of rhythm to it and I tried, really tried to swim straight.  Long strokes, extend, follow through, don't lift your head on the breath, elbow high, dolphin kick and so a billion things I have heard Jonathon and Eric say to me in the pool kept playing over like a broken but comforting record.  Before I knew it, I was preparing myself mentally and physically for the "what's next"  Getting out of the water, I had no clue if I had a good or bad swim.  It felt ok time wise but like crap mentally.  "Don't go too fast out of the gate on your bike." You have a tendency to do that on your bike and run" Coach EK says to me a few minutes before the start.  We set my power goal earlier in the week and I was riding about 7 watts less then that to start.  Trying to heed his words and not go to hard at the start.  I  then realize I screwed my Garmin watch up and had paused it rather then putting myself through transition and start the bike leg.  I promise, One day I will get this watch 100% perfect in a race but not on this Sunday.  I mess with it a bit and get it set straight.  Then realize I haven't had any fuel.  Going up hill, not the time to do that right now as I peddle and watch the scores of people passing me.  I try to stay true to my watts and just ride my race.  I hit a flat and so starts my calculated nutrition as I don't want to intake anything on the run and feel I may need to catch up a little as I hadn't ingested anything to this point.  My mind wanders to the deadening feeling I have in my leg and I shift around to loosen up and I keep my eye on my power.  I realize I am starting to catch and pass a few folks that took off like a rocket and flew by me.  Though I am still getting passed far more than I am I am reciprocating.  Then Belial comes to mind and my missed bike rides over the weeks.   Cortisol pops by to remind me I am out of shape and should be disappointed in myself for allowing it to happen.  
And I think Lord on this Sunday please oh please don't let me be last in my age group.  
I enter the transition area off the bike 2 watts higher than I had planned and feel pretty good even though it felt like everyone was faster than me.  I can't find my bike rack.  I walked the space but it was not the normal racks that I was used to and could not find where I needed to put Bella and grab my running stuff.  I am going back and forth on the aisle and I hear spectators chuckling at me.  Yeah, keep laughing at me jerky.  I am annoyed because any decent work I may have done on the bike I feel is now completely lost.  I finally find the rack and realize that I did not see it because someone else bike was in my spot and somebody else threw their wet suit over my running shoes.  So it looked a little different then what I was anticipating and how I left it.  (Thanks Kenny)   I am off on the run.  I know exactly where I want to be on the run and I hear "Don't go too fast out of the gate on your bike." You have a tendency to do that on your bike and run"  I think about Kansas 70.3 and how I felt great the first few miles, faster than I should have been and my knees fell apart on a downhill.  I settle in but dang, my lower back is as stiff as can be and I watch my time drop from being too fast to being below my desired race pace.  A few minutes later my neck and lats and shoulder start to feel tight.  My right side has taken a vacation and not allowing me to perform as planned.  Now I am in try to fix it mode and figure out why I hurt and feel soo stiff.  Charles while running by mentions that I have no arm swing and look stiff.  Yep, I do and it feels that way.  Ok first section is up hill perhaps I can make some of the time up on the downhill return trip.  I hit the half way point and I try to pick up the pace.  I am losing real estate and if there is a time to pick it up it needs to be now.    At this point I am 30 seconds slower per mile than I expected to be and with every person that passes me I look at their calf to see their age group and wonder how much further am I falling behind.  I round the final turn and have made up significant time.  In the 5K I bettered each split by about 20 seconds.  On the final straight away, I even gave thought to not doing my finishing move, but I couldn't allow a bad race to interfere with tradition, even though I was sour on the race so.....Wings Up....I'm taking flight and Flying to the Finish.  I cross the finish, I hear Dana call my name and see Bill moments later and we pause for a 303 Tri picture.

My back is sore, my shoulder is tight, my hip hurts a bit and I ran pretty slowly.  Not feeling that great at this moment but I am surrounded by some great people.  Coach EK takes 1st in his age group.  Kenny takes 1st in his age group.  Elizabeth takes 1st in her age group.  Dana & Bill take 2nd in the mixed relay.  These folks are not great because they did so well today.  They just all happen to be quality people that performed well on this Sunday and I am proud of them all.  I finally make my way to the race results to see where I landed in the pile and there in front of my eyes I notice that I had just raced my fastest sprint tri race of my short career.  I literally felt like shit and raced 3 minutes faster than I did in Steamboat when I was on the podium in 2nd place.  It just goes to show you that On Any Given Sunday during triathlon season anything is possible. I hear Coach EK in my head, race with what you have nothing more. nothing less.  Today, I did just that.   I had the 10th fastest swim time of my age group and the slowest run time.  In the middle of the pack on the bike.  Pretty damn funny to me.  The weeks leading up to the race were pretty bad, prerace felt off, the race itself felt like crap and yet I had just ran my personal best.......  I know if I am going to have any life anymore it is because, I am still willing to fight, and die for that inch because that is what LIVING is.  

I hope I will always make the decision to live and to experience life and when I want nothing more than to crawl into that ball and stay under those covers that I am able to pick myself up and take it one inch, one step at a time.  After the race, I decided not to do my training ride as scheduled.  My back stiffened up pretty good, my hip hurt even more and my head was pounding.  But during that time, I decided to rededicate myself to my training and my goal of IM Fortaleza.  I will go back to a proper eating schedule, I will add a 30 minute run to life daily, I will make an appointment with Heather my miracle worker and have her lay her hands and needles and electric stim on my body to hurt and heal it sooo good.  I spent the rest of the day with Jess, hobbling through an art festival, eating momos and Tofu Aloo out on our favorite patio, catching a movie and sharing in a traditional post race bloody mary. 
What a great fall Sunday!

Monday, September 1, 2014

A Coach or No Coach.... is that the question?

When I was about 7 and started playing football I realized that I was not as big as the other kids but that didn't mean a thing to me.  As I continued to get older and grow it was noticeably not at the rate as the other kids and it wasn't long before I was the smallest kid on the football field.  I was slightly disappointed.  Not because I was littler than the rest but because my professional football career came to a screeching halt.  I realized that I would never make it to the big show as a player.  My dreams and thoughts then changed to ...."How else can I make there?"  Maybe I could be a team physician or better yet a COACH."
In college I went on to study Sports Medicine took all the Physical Education requirements of Exercise Physiology, Kinesiology, Anatomy and Physiology, Nutrition, Conditioning and Fitness...yadda yadda yadda.  I went on to own a business that specialized in coaching athletes and certify Coaches.  I ran Development Camps, Coached at all levels from High School to University to Men's & Women's Leagues.  I became certified in all sorts of training modalities.  I was a personal trainer and taught everything from yoga to spin to strength conditioning to cardio kick to step aerobics with seasoned hardened athletes to  those lovely blue hair ladies in my aqua aerobics classes.
I have been a Director or a Ski & Snowboard School and I also taught Rock Climbing for a time.  So you might say I know a thing or two about coaching athletes.

In 2011 I decided to run in my first marathon.  Without any real track or running specific coaching background, I immersed myself in the field and coached myself to multiple marathon and half marathon finishes.  I sought out training groups and coaches from time to time but it never really clicked or felt quite right. I continued to work with myself and the knowldege I had and the training readings I would get from Runner World and continually bettered my times each race and became a stronger runner.
Crossing the finish line in my 1st Marathon

In 2013 I decided to jump into the world of triathlons and Ironman Racing.  I had never really swam before.  Except the doggie paddle and hadn't a clue about riding a TT bike.  Once I entered into Cozumel Ironman I began researching all about training for an IM.  I watched tons of You Tube videos on swimming and read every from the couch to an Ironman in 6 months kind of articles and books.  I wasn't sure if I was going to get a specialized triathlon coach or not.  I'm not the kind of guy that hires a coach.  That is for the serious athlete.  I'm, well, I am just me.  Will a coach want to take me on?  I am not trying to win an age group or make it to Kona.  Am I going to get stuck in a groups of fellow smoes like myself and just run around the reservoir for hours like I have seen while out on my own runs?  How and what I am I going to do?  So I decide to take a masters swim class at my gym.  Surely they will be able to teach me how to do this.  I go a few minute early to the class because I want to speak with the instructor to inform them that I am a brand spanking new and I was not sure how advanced the Masters Class was.  After his initial shock of me just jumping into an IM in under 6 months without knowing how to swim or ride a TT bike and being made fun of for wearing board shorts to my first day of swim the very next thing I was asked....."Are you going to hire a Coach?"  "Yes",  I said not really knowing where this would take me as only 10 minutes earlier I hadn't a clue.  "That's very smart and probably the best decision you can make.  Do you have any candidates in mind to interview?" Huh, me interview for a coach??  I guess that is a great idea and suggestion.  "Well, I have a few leads I say".  "OK, well I can suggest a few if you'd like"  Most definitely is my reply and I get a list of 3 or 4 local coaches. And off I go interviewing.  I do some more research and dwindle it down to about 6 names that seem like might work for me.  Finding a coach in Boulder is certainly not a difficult thing to do.  Around every corner is someone lurking to make a few extra bucks and saying they are a coach.  This was a weird process for me as I felt that I hadn't a clue as to what I was looking for in a coach.  It can but doesn't have to be a daunting task.  Some of the folks I interviewed laughed at me and didn't have the time for a newbie like me as they looked down their noses at this guy who's #1 Goal was not qualifying for Kona.  I understood what they stood for and hold no angst about them.   I knew virtually nothing about triathlons and nothing about 2 of the 3 disciplines about it.  But I know people and I know what I like and dislike and I refused to be intimidated by a process.  
Timber Point Elementary School & My Kindergarten Class
Would a kindergartner not go to Elementary School because they don't know the alphabet yet? Heck no.....and I was not going to not hire a coach because I was afrad to make a fool out of myself because I didn't know much about the sport.  I continued interviewing and I narrowed it down to two candidates.  Both of whom were recommended to me.  Both who didn't seem to care if desired to come in first or just cross the finish line, both who seemed to understand that I have an absolutely crazy work schedule and both who just seemed to care that I got out of it what I wanted no matter the level and would work with me to get there. Both who I thought would make a great coach for me.  They both had different training methods so I chose the one that seemed like it was more fitting to what I was currently aligned with.
My Coach ~ Eric Kenney w EK Endurance
I narrowed the choice down to one and have not regretted a minute of it.  Well, maybe sometimes, particularly during those COLD December early morning swims.  Deciding to hire a coach,  besides my beautiful Bella Nera Cannondale Slice was the best decision I could have made for myself and the wisest choice on how to spend my money.  I often hear folks say, "I can't afford a coach"  I get it, seems maybe like a luxury, but I wonder and think, you can't afford not to have a coach.  People will spend thousands dollars to get a faster bike.  Spend hundreds on an aero helmet or a streamline wet suit.  Those are cool and all but a coach can cost less than that bike and hlmet an wet suit and get you a much faster overall time.  Besides it is tough to race if you are injured and a good coach will help you get where you want to go injury free.  It felt like I had some naggin injury every other week while marathon racing and I am now on my way to a 3rd Ironman in a year without any "real or substantial" injury.  I know I could not have done that 

I look back at over the course of the last year and my triathlon training and competition of two Ironman races.  And in every race and more than a few training session, I hear my coach's voice inside my head.
Coach Eric and I before my 1st triathlon
From quick one liners.....
"push it but don't burn yourself out and then give it all at the finish line."
 "Finish strong, be tired at the end and don't hold back" 
"Run as flawless as a race as you could and run a race, not do a workout." 
"Don't be distracted. Be the distraction"
"Don't stop moving, keep moving"
"slow is smooth and smooth is fast".
"the bike is the only part of the race you can still move forward without doing anything and coast and catch you breath.  Though I am not saying you have to coast if you don't need to, then keep peddling" 

To race Day Strategies......
"hill coming out of the park, don't power up it and burn yourself out at the start."
."Now at the end of the bike it is a sharp turn with rubber mats and it is easy to get caught and stuck and wipe out"
"Dump water on your head in this area as the day will definitely be heating up by the time you get to the run section and there will be 3 water stations"

To setting the game plan.....
Swim: steady and long in the swim
Ride: steady!  like you did in the TT loop is pretty good. bike pedal around 170 watts. coast when you can on down hills etc.  
Run: find your rhythm in the first mile then try and run faster each mile to the finish! 

To settling pre race jitters and doubts....
There was the time I was standing in FREEZING cold water before a race, wondering why I was not in my bed back at home...Coach Eric must have caught my body language as I step foot into the water as soon thereafter he was by my side.  "Marty, this race is not about time or distance.  You swim 5 times longer than this in training.  This race is about how you as a racer handle the elements and what gets thrown your way and how you handle that adversity.  That is what this race in the cold is about.  Can you turn it off and still race or will the elements get the better of you?"  I think to myself...the elements almost already won while I was still in my nice warm sheets until I texted you. "Cozumel will be hot and humid and will potentially have some nasty cross winds.  You will have to contend with them."  

To trying to prepare me mentaly & physically for what was to come....
This past week my coach had a training session in the pool where he put 4 people in my lane and then hopped in the pool himself.  He was grabbing my feet.  Ripped my goggles off of my face.  Pushing and pulling on me all wile I was trying to swim laps.  I laugh now when I type these words but I so truly appreciate him trying to recreate for me what I may expereince and to mentally prepare me for whatever may come my way.  From....

To Hydration...
"Never pass up an opportunity to fill up on water"  Definitely saved Esra, Susan and I one hot July day on  along bike ride.

Take 2 bottles of water at each aide station, put one in your jersey immediately, grab another and refill your aero bar waterbottle dump the rest over your head, legs ad down your back....along with Purchase those wings if you can it'll help you cool yourself down and provide UV protection.  Were two Boulder IM Race Day Saviours.

I can go on and write 20 pages of words and stories and notes and antidotes from my coach and the experiences I've had with him over the last year.  Many of which saved my ass out on long rides, in races and in my head.

Do I agree with everything my coach says?  Nah.  Do I drive him crazy at times with my newbie questions and 11pm texts?  Probably......ok yes.   Coach Eric gives me a kick in the behind when needed and tells me I've done a solid job when I deserve it.

My team of fellow triathletes w EK Endurance Coaching
The best, smartest and single most impactful decision I've made when jumping into the world of triathlons was to hire a coach.  Would I have finished my first,  IM in Cozumel without hiring a coach?  I'd like to think so.  Would I have had a much more difficult time?  Most definitely.  Would I have continued in the sport and have had as much enjoyment in what I am doing right now?  This, I am not as sure.  My triathlon journey at times has been painful, scary and unsettling.   I could only imagine how much worse it would have / could have been if I didn't have a coach to guide me.  But that is not the case, I am loving and enjoying each and every step of this journey largely due to the mentor that I have and for that I will be forever thankful.
Crossing the finish one of my last races.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Long Road Home

It's been just over two weeks since IM Boulder and I haven't really felt a sense of post race depression.  You know that feeling of build up and anticipation and all those months of training and working towards something and's done and gone.  I talked and blogged about it after I completed IM Cozumel.  I definitely felt it after my first event ever being the marathon in Arizona and how I silently sat and wept on the plane as I was waiting to take off and bring me back to Colorado.  I haven't had any of those feelings at all following IM Boulder.  In fact, I went to work the very next morning after the race.  Bright and early at 8am.  I only worked about 4 hours but it was life as I knew it back to normal.  Monday afternoon, I kissed Team Marty goodbye and of they went to the airport and back to NY.  EK Endurance athletes met up for a celebratory dinner and chill time together for the journey we all just took together.

The following day, Tuesday, it was back in the pool for 6:30 am swim with Coach Eric.  It's Tuesday 6:30 (ok 6:45am) that's what we do on Tuesdays.  Except I was the only one in my lane.  No Susan, no Ken.  I looked to the lane next to me......No Elizabeth, No Kenny, No Conrad.  Don't they realize it's Tuesday Morning we always swim together on Tuesday mornings.  No other training for the week planned.  It's Saturday....long ride day around North Boulder County.  Ummmm nope.  Easy ride day on a bike path in Denver instead.

It's Sunday and time for Jonathan's 8:30am swim class.  Class is always packed....not today.  "Marty?"  "Yes, Jonathan" "Why don't you move and swim in this lane today instead?"  "But I never swim in that lane", I insist "I like my lane, I don't need to prove to anyone I've gotten and I'm getting faster"  "I don't have to swim in lane 2 or 3 or whatever"  "5 years from now you can come back and I will still be happily swimming in lane 1.  It's my lane"....."No more.  You should have moved out of this lane a while ago.  Time to leave the nest"..."Ohhhhhhhh, yes sir."

Tuesday....6:30am Swim again (ok 7am swim)  Ken is here!, Elizabeth is here! Kenny is here!  I mess up my garmin and my data.  All is back to normal and right in my world!!  Hot tub afterwards.  So what's next...."Vineman", "Boise 70.3", "Fortaleza, Brazil", "Kona" "British Columbia"  Hmmmm, nothing matches.  "Well, any thoughts to Boulder '15?"  "Nah", "Probably not", "I don't know", "Not doing it"  "Anyone doing Steamboat this weekend?"....Nope....Nah......No.....Hmmmmm.  After the hot tub, I head to the recovery room to sit in the boots........I am alone and the only one in there.

Steamboat Triathlon was fun.  Ran a smart race and actually managed to come in 2nd place in my age group.  Two weeks removed from IM Boulder it felt great to shake the legs out.  There were quite a few Boulder Tri Club members there.  Noticeably missing, for myself at least, were any of my training mates.  We easily could have rocked this race.

"Wanna go for a ride today?" ~ No, I can't I have other plans.
"Gonna hit the recovery boots, anyone in?" ~ Gotta get to work
"Team Dinner this weekend?" ~ Spent too much time away from family training need to be around the house.

It's now Friday...Tomorow is Saturday it means long ride day.  Well, for me at least.

When I trained for Cozumel, I pretty much trained all by myself.  I never rode with a group.  Pretty much long hours in the pool on the trails and treadmill and on the road alone.  That is how I trained for all the marathons I did the previous 3 years.  No big deal that is how it was done.  But IM Boulder was different.  Not only did my training family train for the race but it felt like 1/4 of the community in Boulder was training for the race.  That was something truly special.  All with a common goal.  Of course different individual goals but a common bond or thread as it may be.......To hear Mike Reilly call our names in our hometown. 

Reading the words I have written above one may ask am I now experiencing post race depression?  Nah I still dont think so.  As a matter of fact I hadn't connected the dots to the above actions or occurances I never realized any of this till today.....about 5 minutes ago.  I am not feeling post race depression of the event.  I am feeling several different emotions though. I am slightly sad that we as a training family are all following our own paths.  And what I came to know as regularity in my crazy life will change slightly.  I don't know if Ken will be in the pool on Tuesday explaining for the billionth time what the different between the top of the minute and bottom of the minute is.  I don't know if my long Z2 rides will contain selfies of Esra or Susan and myself.  I don't know if I will spend time attempting to coordinate long runs or rides for the week.  I know, I am more than ok with that.  I am actually thrilled as a training family that we are all following our own paths.  I am soooo incredibly stoked for Kenny and his journey to Kona and for Conrad heading to Canada.  And I enjoy hearing Elizabeth talk about what's next or see Esra light up when she mentions IMNZ.  I'm eagerly waiting to hear what Susan is going to do, where Audra will tear it up next and thrilled that my man Ken is gonna be a dad again.  It allows me to cherish what was IM Boulder that much more and to appreciate each moment in time because no two are truly the same.  Sometimes we as mere mortals forget to appreciate the moment until it becomes a memory.  I try to stay and live the best I can in the moment and feel them in my soul.  So my life will alter and be a little different than before but so much richer for having experienced this journey with a great coach and fantastic teammates.

Lau Tzo is quoted as saying.......
If you are depressed you are living in the past.
If you are anxious you are living in the future.
If you are at peace, you are living in the present.

I am so at peace with what all my training family is doing with their lives.  I have eager anticipation for what's next in my journey to IM Fortaleza and all the hours of training and wonderful memories I will have along this Long Road Home.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

These Three Things

Three has always been my number.  I have always had an affinity for it for some reason.  3, 13, 33, 6, 9, 23, 46 all ring out three to me and they are all numbers that have had meaning to me in my life.

As a young kid and avid Mets Fan my favorite player was #3 Buddy Harrelson

Hall of Fame Quarterback Dan Marino lead my Dolphins for years had a 3 on his jersey.

Speak no, See no & Hear no....evil

In Catholicism ~ There is the holy trinity of The Father, The Son and The Holy Ghost.

In Jerusalem ~ there were the Three Wise Men

In Nursery Rhymes we had the Three Blind Mice

And in a children's book you can find The Three Little Pigs.

For University I went to Springfield College where the belief was in three....the development of one's Spirit, their Mind and their Body.
In the guest service industry I preach about taking care of The  Guest, The Company and The Employees equally so that there may be balance.

In the 70's Three Dog Night had a great hit with Joy to the World

Buddha teaches us that there are three things in life that cannot be hidden.

When you think of things in three how can one forget The Stooges??

And according to Corinthians 13:13  there are three things that will last forever ~ Faith, Hope & Love.
And the greatest of these is Love.
The word Triathlon is Greek in origin.  From τρεις or treis (three) and αθλος or athlos (contest).

At this point in my life, I am finding great joy in doing triathlons.  I love the training. Exercise and working out has always been a part of my life.  As well as competing in sporting events.   In particular, I am having a wonderful experience in participating in Iron distance (140.6 miles) events.  I am not sure how many more years or how many more Ironmans triathlons or what my ultimate goal is for racing.  I am not to concerned with the answers to any of those three questions.  What I do know is.......  I am ready for my next.  

Ironman #1 Cozumel on December 3rd
Ironman #2 Boulder on August 3rd
.......and in 11 months and 6 days from my first Ironman I will attempt Lucky #3.  On November 9th, 2014, in exactly 3 months from today, I will participate in my 3rd Ironman Competition.  This will mark 3 Ironmans for me in one year, my first year of doing triathlons.  My Ironbuddy and Brother from another Mother Hal was with me for #1.  He lives in Brazil and flew to Mexico to support me in my dream of pursuing that first Ironman.

It only seems fitting that this time I fly to him and compete in.......
Ironman #3 Fortaleza, Brasil on November 9th


Friday, August 8, 2014

IM Boulder Race Recap 2014 ~ Let's Do This!!

Leading up to IM Boulder, it was so much different than the days before IM Cozumel just a short 8 months ago.  Have I learned and grown so much that it seemed like a very distant past rather than earlier in the year?  IM Boulder was so much more serene and nerve racking all in the same sense.  There is definitely something to be said about getting away and not doing a race in your back yard.  First and foremost, when you are away, you are away and your sole focus is on the ironman and getting yourself prepared for it.  Racing at home, I worked up to the last minute and was running around trying to get things done for the race, work and my family.  The great part was that I could also roll out of my own bed and not worry about eating foreign food and if I did forget something, I knew exactly where I could find a replacement.   I didn't have to ship my bike and be without it for 2 weeks.  Not to mention the cost.  Racing at home is almost like racing for free (almost) no planes, bike shipping, hotels, food and who wouldn't get a charge out of running around the streets of Boulder with many of their friends and family there to cheer you on.  I had to run in Boulder and take advantage of such an opportunity.

What an incredible hoot doing IM Boulder was.  Pretty much everything surrounding the event for me was a great experience.  Well maybe except for the rain soaked soggy grass during registration.  I didn't like that.  Seriously though....even the logo is pretty friggin cool.  So why wouldn't the race be a blast as well.

Race report, I have to write a race report.  How is this going to compare to my IM Cozumel report?  I really liked that one.  It had it all....Comedy, drama, good photos, stories of triumph and storms in a foreign land.  It took me three separate reports to write the whole damn thing it was soo long.  How can this even come close with this one???

Now I've had the time of my life
No I never felt like this before
Yes I swear it's the truth
and I owe it all to you....

Now I am not sure I had the time of my life but no one puts baby in the corner either.  This is a tale of happiness and love and thankfulness and gratitude.  You know the stuff you never see on TV or read about it the papers because it doesn't sell.  The days leading up to the race, I was slammed with work.  Thank goodness it was taper week because I would have missed half of my workouts anyway.  But the ones that I did, I had a blast doing and was sooo relaxed, happy and ready.

I was asked countless times....."Are you ready?" "Are you nervous?" "Are you scared?" It was to the point that I would wonder if I should question myself.  But I didn't...I was ready for what I had and I knew I would race on the day with what I brought and had prepared for.  Was I gonna set any world speed records?  Nope.  But I was gonna do well and see what mother nature and nutrition would throw my way.  Was I nervous or scared??  Nope.  I was ready.  Just another day in the Boulder hood.  Plain and simple.  My mantra......Let's Do This!

My pre-race meal was a nice relaxing meal with my family.  I skipped the Friday night craziness of downtown welcome reception and just enjoyed and appreciated my family members coming out to visit and supporting me.
Rigatoni with Asparagus, Artichoke Hearts & Sun Dried Tomatoes....oh and a glass of Sangiovese
Checking in on Bella before the swim 
Team Marty 30 min before the cannon
The Swim ~ I've never done a rolling swim start based off the time that you expect to come in so that was a little new to me.  I called Coach EK the night before to inquire where I should start.  I was thinking 1:25 maybe 1:30 to play it safe.  His response....... the back of 1:15.  Huh?  Hmmmm OK, Why not?? I thought....... let's do this.  I was immediately concerned about The Demon Nok coming and getting me as I was going to get thrashed around and swam over and kicked and punched and be completely in the spin cycle of the washing machine Boulder Reservoir.  My solice was that he said the back of it.  Ok I can hang in the back and no one will swim over me, I can do this.  Race morning, no 1:15...just 1:00 to 1:10 or 1:10 to 1:20....ummmmmmm Let's Do This! The back of 1:10 it is.  Team Marty gets to the reservoir and I was able to visit with Bella for a few minutes and put my hydration and nutrition for the ride on her.  I whisper sweet words to her and give her a kiss for a wonderful day.  I was then able to hang with my family for a few minutes which was real nice. 

My Aunt pointed out that the body marker I had must have been dyslexic.  The number 4290 was written on both arms when my bib number was 2490.  Pretty funny considering there are only 3000 such registered racers and I was marked in the 4000's.  So out comes another sharpie and a big X is put through the 4 and the 2 and the correct number is written on my arm.  Wonderful........kisses and hugs around and I go line up for the swim. The cannon goes and off so did I.  Felt pretty relaxed, not tired or stressed at all.  Follow through with the arms, don't shorten your stroke, keep your feet together, breathe, site, repeat over and over again.  I strayed from time to time realizing I was off course and then had to right myself.  I kept following the orange shirts and pfd's of the volunteers rather than the orange bouys.  I have to wonder how much extra swimming I did.
Too much Orange for this sighting challenged swimmer.

Unfortunately, I didn't set my watch correctly (surprise, surprise) so I am unable to see the GPS version of my swim and laugh at my zig zag line of swimming.  I realized my watch blunder at the transition from swim to bike. I was able to correct and catch up my garmin and get my data for the remainder of the race but I had no clue how my swim was or the running time for the race.  Breathe stroke stroke, breathe stroke stroke, breathe stroke stroke, breathe stroke stroke repeat repeat repeat about 2,000 or so times and I just settled myself into a nice rhythm.  Every once in a while doing a check on my legs and kicking...Dolphin kick, 2 stroke kick just keep those legs awake and active for the bike.  I felt good and strong and this 2.4 mile swim was over before I knew it.  Out of the water, start to undo my wet suit 5 volunteers jumped on mye to lay down and they stripped me in 2 seconds flat.  That was fun! And off I went to the TA for the bike.
Solid Swim (for me)
The Bike ~ Reviewing with Coach EK prior to the race, I knew exactly what my power and wattage should be for the bike section and I was determined to make sure I stayed to it.  I also felt like I had a solid game plan for nutrition and hydration and keeping cool.  I didn't want to repeat Cozumel where I basically allowed my body to run out of electrolytes and crashed HARD.  I really enjoyed the swim but the bike section might have been my favorite of the three disciplines.  Being from the area I've had the ability to ride the course. I knew all the bad that could happen out there.  The wind, the heat, the sun, the hills.  I've had a few rough patches during my training and dreaded a few areas of the course.  To my great pleasure I rode through those historic rough spots with not even a blink or cause for concern.  I tracked my power wattage and followed the game plan laid out for me.  I rested as much as I could on the downhills allowing gravity to take me and resting my legs for the second half of the course.  I saw SLOW written on the roads in some areas and was like...."What the hell??" Let's let it ripp!!! Let's Do This!!  I was fortunate to meet some people out on the bike and have nice conversations.  Although FB Friends, it was great to finally meet Kristina, it a awesome to see Nancy volunteering out on the course, the spectators were awesome and seemed to get fired up when I called for them for "More Cowbell!!"  You could literally feel the energy from me to them and then they gave it right back to me tenfold.  I looked forward to those opportunities out there.  I saw Gene out there a few times.  He is quoted as wondering if I was delirious out in the sun because I was soo happy.  I recall getting off of my seat at one point in the race, shaking my ass and actually singing and dancing to a little Pharrell Williams

Because I'm happy
Clap along if you feel like a room without a roof
Because I'm happy
Clap along if you feel like happiness is the truth
Because I'm happy
Clap along if you know what happiness is to you
Because I'm happy
Clap along if you feel like that's what you wanna do

Team Marty was out there cheering.  A special thanks to Nick and PF for taking care of my family and getting them around out there on the course to see me.  I came to the special needs aid station midway through the bike and was like...Nah, don't need it don't want to get off my bike to stop.  I recall getting to the aid station in Cozumel and thanking the lord above for it as I was nutritionally spent at that time but not on this day.  Today, I feel great!  I had a solid nutritional game plan for the ride.  One that I spent a good deal of time learning from Cozumel and tweaking to make it better.  I followed a solid hydration theory or thought from Coach EK and my all liquid diet and electrolyte replenishment plan worked as hoped.  I love it when a plan comes together.  

Heading south from the northernmost part of the course the sun and heat really started to get up there.  There was a slight breeze coming from the east and heading west.  I knew heading west back into town was mostly all upslope, I wanted to make sure I was able to take advantage of that slight breeze at my back and head west as soon as possible.  Many times when the heat kicks up around here the wind shifts from westerly to an easterly.  I heard a lot of people say how tough the bike course was.  I say they are lucky we had an easy breeze in the right direction and although it was hot, it was not nearly as hot as it was a week or two ago.  Ahhhh those Summer Winds.......

........Good Ole Blue Eyes sang about them.  And for some odd reason his songs were the ones in my head on the course.  I must have sung "Fly me to The Moon" and "Summer Winds" fifteen times each during my 6+ hour bike ride.  Who knows why?  But the Hoboken Crooner was with me most of this section and I dug it!  Of course there was and is always my goofy poses when I pass a photographer out on the course and this race that was no exception.

Muscle Up Gun Show is a popular pose
You Da Man is always a hit

I took care of some course Demos out there are well as 52 westbound had not been my friend prior to this race.  Always having some difficulty in the past.  Not today.  Seeing Dana and the 303 Triathlon Gang out there during that span was a great lift. And then there is this little section I have always called the 3 Sisters.  The last time I rode the sisters, was not a good outing.  In fact it was the worst experience I had with the ladies.  I was very curious at the start of the day how Bella and I would fair today.
Taken on top of the 3 Sisters aka Bitches
Let's say, Bella and I didn't even flinch with the gals today.  I got to the final hump of the sisters and the photographer shouted at me....."Dude, you are way too happy and have more energy than anyone I have seen hit these bitches today"  I smile gave him a thumbs up and off I went.  This was the first time on the course that I realized how much fun I was truly having and what a magical event this IM Boulder was.  Now lest you think it was all candy canes, gum drops and unicorns for me out there and I was always in la la land I wasn't.  I recall getting annoyed at one point and it stuck with me throughout the duration of the race.  There was this young lady that I went flying by on the down hill section of St. Vrain and I happened to notice she had a "Fueled By Beef" jersey on.  What a crock and a lie that statement is.  But that is a story for another time and another soap box.

Not actual athlete from Boulder IM just same jeresy

About 3 minutes later on the incline she peddles past me cuts in front of me and slows down to almost a halt.  So I pass her and peddle on and so it begins.  Throughout the bike section of the race I'd catch her peddling like mad to get in front of me and then once she past me she would "coast" and stop peddling and I thought.....What an asshole!  Bad enough she is wearing that stupid Beef shirt but she is also displaying bad etiquette on the bike.  It figures the two would go together.  For those who are not aware, I was in a race in San Antonio two years ago and there were hundreds of athletes wearing these Fueled by Beef shirts. I of course was wearing my "No Meat Athlete ~ Fueled by Plants" Shirt and I was Booed on the course.  What kind of people Boo someone running in a marathon???  Needless to say I am not a fan of the athletes I have come across wearing the Beef Councils propaganda to sell their product, ruin our earth and poison our children.  Once we hit the back half of the bike course, I left that young lady in the dust....for the time being. 

The other not so experience for me on the bike was the final incline by the airport.  As I was peddling uphill all the sudden both inner thighs tightened up.  A shooting pain of sorts shot from my inner thighs up my groin and into my stomach or perhaps psoas.  I got real nervous.  How could both bi lateral muscles get pulled simultaneously?  I spent the final decent into town trying to stretch and work it out for the run.  Well that and yelling at the fans along the road for "More Cowbell".  The streets were going wild and I was fist pumping my way down the avenues.  Truly an incredible feeling.

The Run ~ Like in transition1, I was slow in transition 2.  I was deliberate and methodical.  In hind sight, maybe too deliberate.  In Cozumel, I forgot my gloves in TA1 and had to go back and get them.  I didn't wipe / lube my feet enough in TA 2 to prevent both feet full of blisters.  This is something I will need to work on because almost 30 minutes combined in the  TAs are way too slow.  I got out on the run course and started off pretty well.  Well, for the first few feet.  My groin was very tight and I tried to just stretch it out.  That began my 6+ hours of walking, shuffling, jogging.  My spirits were high and it was fantastic again to see so many people out on the course both as spectators and fellow racers.  The out and back course allowed one to see spectators 4 different times.

I must have given out about hundreds of  hugs, a ton of kisses, a billion thumbs up and countless number of hi fives along the route.  I saw every fellow EK Endurance Athlete out there which was great as we have spent a lot of time together training pushing and supporting each other.  Well except for Kenny.....he was too fast and I think finished the race while I was just getting out of the water.  I shared time with and chatted with every fellow 303Triathlete out on this course.  I ran through Theresa's bubbles on my way to a hug. Was a Marty Sandwich with Sammi and Kevin twice!!  Seemed to see Kylee and Nate at every corner smiling, cheering and picture taking.  Had the entire Millennium Harvest House outside forming a human low five line.  My homeboy Chris kept everyone informed with videos and pictures through the day.  My IronBuddy Hal was posting pictures and listing splits from Brazil.  How could it be possible that there was a BTCer at every aid station and around every corner.  It seemed like every two minutes I was high fiving or hugging someone from the best Tri Club out there!  Nick, PF, Dad, Aunt Maria, Cousin Paulette & Jessica were with me from 3am till 1am...cheering laughing, hugging, kissing and drinking with me all the way.  And the list goes on.  How many times can I say this was truly an incredible race?

At the end of the day the run was about managing to get through it all.  I've gone this far no way I am not gonna finish now. I wasn't happy about my tempo or lack there of and I managed a 14:46 per mile pace.  Some miles were 10 minutes some were almost 19 minutes.  It was tough  The pain would not subside in my legs.  I ate, I drank, I took in salt.  I high stepped, I stretched, I did striders, I did just about everything I could think of to manage the run to get back on pace with where I wanted and felt I should be at.  My feet started getting hot and that means blisters.  I experienced that pain enough in Cozumel.  I stopped at the special needs area around mile 10 or so.  I proceeded to wipe dry my feet, put on a few blister band aides, loaded up on glide and changed my socks.  I took a few Aleve to attempt to manage the muscle soreness I was feeling and to be preventative with swelling in my X Factor, my knees.  While in my slow pace and stopping in the special needs area I saw the lovely Fueled by Beef Gal out on the run.  Again, I felt her run up behind me, pass me and then stop to walk.  My walking/shuffling pace was a bit faster then hers so within a few minutes I shuffled by her.  Not more than 5 minutes later she ran by me and stopped to walk about 10 feet in front of me.  So this continued for about another 7 miles back and forth she'd run in front of me and then slow to almost a halt on her walk.  I continued my slow but steady pace.  I think I passed her for the final time around mile 15.  Not to see her again till well after my finish while sitting in the stands she did cross the line in under 17hrs.
My least favorite picture of the day.  Me.... power walking
I recall during the race when I made the decision to start walking.  I heard Coach EK in my head...."hold off on walking as long as you can, because once you do you cant come back and it is very difficult to start running again."  I was not happy with that decision to walk but I was unsure what else to do.  I made a promise to myself though, I would try everything to get my muscles  feeling better and to run, jog, shuffle, power walk the best I could.  When I would walk, I would see someone walking in front of me and I would say to myself, I will walk faster than that person and I will catch up to them and pass them.  This continued for miles.  It was not a stroll in the park kind of walk for me.  I was amazed by the numbers of walkers that were out on the course.  I spoke to many of them.  They were all spent. Altitude, dehydration, cramping, tough course, went out to hard on the bike....the list went on.  Cozumel did not see half near the number of people walking this marathon.  I also saw at least 5 people out along side of the path.  I mean OUT.  Ambulance take them away out.  It felt like a group of hundreds of Zombies just trying to make their way.
Although my spirits were up, I realized that many were not.  I also knew that although I was in my second lap of the marathon there were many beginning their first.  I then became a cheerleader.  I would put my arms around others and walk with them.  I would extend a hand to get people off their butts from sitting and to start walking again.  As I passed people going in the other direction, I would call out words of encouragement and letting them know the finish would soon be near.  All in all it was a decent 26.2 miles. One thing that made me chuckle is I would ask for pigs in the blanket or scallops wrapped in bacon or hummus and pita chips when passing an aide station.  Needless to say that wasn't part of their smorgasburg. Ultimately, I wound up walking on the uphills, jogging or power walking on the flats and jogged on the downhills.  I didn't have to lift my legs so much on the declines and flats and that is when I hurt.  I just allowed gravity to take over and on my final 5 miles I allowed cola into my body for that final caffeine buzz.  Not sure why, it just seemed like a fun thing to do.  My final lap, although I did it all day, I made sure to thank every volunteer I came across on the run.  If I saw an orange shirt, I thanked them for being out there and volunteering.  A few funny times when it was just a dude in an orange shirt and had nothing to do with the race.  I thanked them anyway.  Before I knew it, I had to take a right at the fork.  The one that takes you off the creek path and up 13th street towards Pearl.  It was eerily dark and I paced myself to try and have the finish shoot relatively to myself and not cross the line in a crowd.  There were a few people out there in awe of the racers and cheering us on for the last few blocks of uphill running to the end.  

The lights get brighter and the crowd gets bigger and louder.  I hit the carpet and it was time to take flight.........I flew down the finish chute trying to catch a glimpse of friends but the bright lights and noise makes it difficult to focus on anything but heading towards the arch just before the finish I raised my arms in the air and give thanks to a truly wonderful day.  I know they are not all going to be as and pleasant and enjoyable a today was.  I wonder quickly what am I going to do when I cross the line.  The way my legs were feeling I wasn't sure if I'd muster the height or strength to heel kicked my way across the finish line.  What do I have to lose.....nothing.

"Marty from are an Ironman" ~ Mike Reilly  Sweet music to ones ears.

And there you have it. Certainly not a perfect race.  Certainly not as fast as I had a hidden desire to do.  But 14:45:31 minutes of a pretty damn good time.  A volunteer quickly came over to snatch me up and put a medal on me and walk with me.  When I turned to my right and saw Team Marty with the biggest smiles on their faces.  Truly a memorable sight for me.  I did not expect to see them at the finish and thought I'd see them back at the hotel afterwards.  More friends and high fives and hugs and all was good in my world.  What a fantastic way to finish this race.

2 Time Ironman.....Me!
Let's Do this!!

Here are two video links to my finish and then immediately afterwards......
 Running down the finish line chute

Just after the finish line hooking up with Team Marty

Moments later I am met by Coach EK and Lindsay.  Another great sight and moment to see them there.  After a few minutes of spectating and picking up my gear it is off to The Millennium Hotel where Jessica and I meet up with some of my EK Endurance Family....Susan, Audra, Kenny, Elizabeth, Hugh, Coach Erik & Lindsay and we all celebrate and raise a toast to a fantastic journey together.

Here's to IM Boulder and all the wonderful experiences we had along the way!
It's our life, let's live it to the fullest and have a blast while doing so!!
Let's do this!!!

So..........what's next??