A Year Later – 7.19.16


A Bad Day – 7/19/15

For many years, I drank at least 1 2 liter of diet soda (whatever was on sale when I had run out). And when I was in the middle of a large development project, it would be more. I heard all of the things about diet soda from friends and family, but just ignored it. The caffeine was helping me to get things accomplished, and with a couple exceptions prior to last July, I hadn’t had issues.

What it took to make the change was almost missing out on a very important triathlon. After the scare on the path, I had to rush around to get medical clearance to race a couple of weeks later. It all fell into place in time, but the two pieces together made me finally give up soda. All of the triathlon and racing things I’m doing are ffar more important. And I don’t ever want to go through that again.

You Can’t Break Me (aka Pleasant Prairie take 2) – 6.26.16


(Photo courtesy of Lindsey Cook)

“It’s like deja vu, all over again.” (Yogi Berra) And quite frankly, even while I was in pain during the race and for a few days later, I would have gladly taken that yesterday. But instead, this happened….

After arriving at Pleasant Prairie at 4:30AM, we ggot the bike set up and went for a test ride. It was a little uncomfortable doing all of this in the dark when I couldn’t see much of anything. But this is one of the many places where complete trust in your guide comes into play. I knew it would all be fine, and it was.

With the bike set, we went into and set up transition and got pumped to rock the Tri. And then the rain and thunder came… An hour later, the Triathlon became a Duathlon (Run/Bike/Bun)I realize that this killed the race for a few people that were the swim part of a relay team, but I saw a LOT of people leaving. One of the main things of being a triathlete is that you have to be flexible — conditions won’t be perfect but you’ve still got to roll with the punches.

I’ll admit that I’m not a strong runner, so going from a Triathlon to a Duathlon wasn’t what I wanted to hear. But I was still optimistic for the day since we still had the bike. We started as a group, and it seemed to go well. We made it about half way around the lake before the 2nd group started.

I was feeling good as we made it to the bike. And it went well until we took a hard left turn on a wet surface. This was the point where the back tire went from a slow leak to flat. When it happened, my immediate reaction was “we are not giving up”. So we started walking the tandem back to the RecPlex, passing a set of course marshals soon after it happened. They asked us if we needed the assistance of the van (aka getting pulled from the race); our response was ‘hell no, we’re walking it back’. I wanted to reply more emphatically, but profanity is a USAT violation, so I left it with that.

After about 5 minutes of walking the tandem, Keri and another team member passed by us. Thankfully, Keri had a flat kit so we thought all was good. Lindsey fixed the flat, and all seemed well. That was until we took the next turn and the tire went flat AGAIN. That meant there was something within the tire, and rubber coming off of it confirmed that thought. So all we could do was walk it in about 3.5 miles. During that walk, Lindsey and I had a chance to talk and get to know each other better. And during that walk, we had a lot of people asking if we needed help and sharing words of encouragement.

When we finally made it back to transition, we had been out on the bike course for two hours. After getting changed back into run gear, we headed out for our 5K run. After about the first half mile, my body was just done. My right side hurt so much that I couldn’t even jog, not even after stretching it out. I think that was because of the extended walk back with the tandem. So we walked the rest of the way back. There was a lot of encouragement for us on the run, and even more surprisingly a big cheering crowd at the finish line. Lindsey said that a lot of those were people who had seen us walking the bike back. Very, very cool that they stuck around until we finished.

So as you can see, what was expected to be a great day went south. And while I could have made it much shorter than the 3:30 I was out on the course, that wasn’t happening. Put simply, I don’t believe in DNFs —

1) I’ve got too much pride to ever tap out.
2) I’ve got too much respect for my teammates and the Dare2Tri organization to do so

We all have struggles out on the course, it’s how you deal with them that defines you. I found out after the race that one of my teammates (Eris) had gotten a flat as well and rode back 10 miles on it so their race could keep going.

Naperville is the next planned race, but I may add another before. I’d like a ‘do over’ for this race. Not because it went badly as a Duathlon, but because it went from a Triathlon to a Duathlon. We’ll see what I can put together. And regardless of when it is, I plan to have a seat bag with a flat kit in it.

Thanks so much to the RecPlex for a great day, Dare2Tri for all of their support and Lindsey Cook for guiding me!

Back on the Horse – 6.19.16


Last weekend took a lot out of me. Two days of being pushed by coaches followed by a grueling Triathlon on Sunday put me down for the count for a few days. Monday is my standard off day, but I was limping through Wednesday — even with 3 solid days of heat and Advil. And with other commitments in the back half of the week, today was my first training session since last weekend.

If you want a good Triathlon simulation, head to a local pool on a hot summer day. I wasn’t even thinking that with today being Father’s Day a lot of people would stake places during Adult Float and stay most of the day with the Beach being their Father’s Day event. So instead of a moderate crowd, there were a lot of people — and thus a bigger obstacle course.

So we worked around the crowds, first in the shallow (4ft) end and then in the deeper (13 ft?) water. I played around a little bit with my most favorite drill (bilateral breathing), but gave it up quickly due to the traffic. When we found a little clearer spot, Terri introduced yet another ‘fun’ drill. This one was swimming sidestroke, and IMO is far less fun than bilateral breathing. Like saying a root canal is more fun than a frontal lobotomy.

But just like with bilateral breathing, sidestroking will continue to be part of the workouts. Not because it’s fun, but because you need to have a Swiss army knife of skills out in the water. And since I know bilateral breathing saved me at Leon’s, I won’t fight sidestroking… too much. 😛

And after struggling to do 50m of sidestroke swimming, I have a new found respect for my guides. A lot of them are swimming 10-15 times that without issue to make sure we stay on course.

Back to the scene of the crime (Pleasant Prairie) next weekend. Hopefully I can get at least 2 runs and a swim in before heading back.

Leon’s Triathlon – 6/4-6/5/16


And so the outdoor season beings… Leon’s Triathlon (Hammond, IN) was my first race of the for the season. While the training hasn’t been perfect, I felt confident heading into it. Especially With th swim. Simply because Coach Stacee has been kicking my ass in the pool for the last 6 months.

There was a camp/team dinner that we went to Saturday night. Leon’s mom showed up, and I ended up sitting next to a wounded veteran (I believe Navy) and got to hear all kinds of amazing stories from him.

On Sunday, we practiced with the tandem that Dare2Tri loaned us, and then got ready to race (including the new magnetic race belt set up — thanks to Dare2Tri) They did an amazing opening ceremony with the garason flag and a multi-service (I believe Army/Navy/Narines) veteran singing the National Anthem. As we were the second-t-last group to start, we had about 45 minutes to wait after transition closed. This gave us a chance to see some of the other groups start, and antics from the wheelies. We’ll see what photos turn out… 😉

Prior to starting, Leon met us at the gate to the lake and welcomed each of us. There weren’t big waves in the lake, but they were consistent. The course seemed to be a sideways J, so the straight part out was into the waves and a challenge. There were a couple of times that it got hard to breathe because of the consistent waves. That’s where the bilateral breathing (one of my least favorite drills) became very helpful. I was able to make it out in my target window (less than 21 min) and we moved onto T1.

For me, T1 always takes — or at least seems to take — an eternity. There’s a lot of gear that need to get switched. Wetsuit/goggles/cap/tethercap off; towel off; socks/shoes/vest/camelback/helmet/gloves/sunglasses on and nutrition in.

Once all of the changes were completed, we were off on the bike. For almost the entire course, we were riding into a headwind. The softglide seats helped during the bike, with my ass falling asleep less times than it normall does during a 12mi ride. I thought we made it back within my target window (30-32 min), but when I saw the results it showed 42 min.

Back to transition for T2, which is always shorter since I’ve got most of my run gear already on.

On the run, my body was just spent. The majority of runs, I’ve been doing 4/1 or 5/1 intervalss, and have been close to 13 minute mile averages. I wasn’t able to do anything close to that on the run course – maybe 2/1 at best. I think there may have been minor ITU band issues, but stretching didn’t fully help. It allowed me to run a bit longer but nothing in the normal 4/1 area. So the run ended up taking 44 min.

Overall, the race went well. I was able to shave 23 minutes off of my sprint PR. And I believe that once I finally have my tandem and can practice on it consistently, I’ll be able to shave even more off. It was an amazing race setting and weekend, and will definitely be on my 2017 schedule. The only thing that I think needs to be changed for 2017 is a better fitting swim cap. This year’s were extremely tight — to the point of hurting. So unfortunately it won’t get used again. I know that TYR makes better fiting ones, as I’ve almost worn out the one from last year’s Naperville Sprint from consistent wear.

Thanks to Lee Dunbar, Dare2Tri and everyone else who helped to make it a great weekend. Next race is Dare2Tri TriIt (Sprint).

3rd Indoor Tri – 1.31.16


This was my 3rd Indoor Tri of the season, and the 1st of the Midwest Indoor Tri Classic Series (MITCS). Going in, I thought it would be an hour of exercise, with the 15 minute transitions like the previous ones had been. However, when I looked at the rules shortly before the event, I saw it was an hour total.

So instead of 10 / 30 / 20 (swim / bike / run), it was 10 / 20 / 15 (swim / bike / run). As Todd and I warmed up in the water, things seemed to be okay. And the first 3 lengths went really well. But on the 4th, I got a couple mouthfuls of water, and spent the rest of the swim gasping for breath more than normal (as I had water I was trying to spit out).

While the swim was a challenge, things went well on both the bike and the run. The totals weren’t what I had aimed for going in, but still a great day and a great experience!

Year in Review – 2015


I know going outside of your comfort zone is a scary thing to do. Within it, you know what to expect, what’s going to happen, and feel like you can contro things. But if you’re willing to take the chances, take calculated risks and be uncomfortable, you’ll get far more than you could ever expect.

In a nutshell, my 2015 exploded and was amazing because I went out of the comfort zone. This is what my entire 2015 was supposed to be
Shamrock Shuffle, BTN Big 10K, Naperville Sprint Triathlon
Trips to WI and MI

This is what my 2015 ended up being:
Run As One, Shamrock Shuffle, Celebrate Differences 5K, Sly Fox 10K, Dare2Tri Tri It Tri, Naperville Sprint Triathlon, Batavia Half Marathon, ITU World Triathlon Grand Finale, Fraidy Cat 10K, Team RWB San Diego 5K, Team RWB KC 5K

Rock climbing for the first time

Trips to WI, MI, NY (including a drive back west) & KC

Introduction to the VI community, Team RWB and Dare2Tri

Volunteer opportunities with Reverb (which I had to decline due to great aunt’s passing)

Dare2Tri PT Camp

Swim classes as part of Tri training

Oh, and all of the media coverage, which started with a simple interview and grew into a huge snowball. Please see the link above for all of the links.

Throughout the year, my coaches have pushed me, not just to get to what I need for the race(s), but to continue going further. I am truly grateful to all of them, although I’m sometimes uncomfortable during the workouts. But no pain, no gain — and you don’t get better by being comfortable.

Through the introductions to Team RWB (which started because of my reading of rules), I’ve had the opportunity to meet some amazing people – both former service members and civilians. And the introduction to Dare2Tri (which started because it’s Executive Director was the Shamrock Shuffle AWD coordinator), gave me opportunities that I didn’t even know existed. Not just from the raining or race aspects, but more from the human aspect. Getting to meet, interact with, and spend the weekend with the group changed my thinking on many things. For more on that, please see the Dare2Tri Camp blog here

While 2015 was an amazing year, I’m looking forward to 2016! I’ve got 22 events planned, along with several personal trips. I will share the event schedule once everything’s finalized. The first race with be the Life Time Indoor Tri this coming Sunday in Romeoville.

Christmas in August – 8.1.15


Yes, I’m well aware that Christmas falls on December 25th. However, it’s now figuratively Christmas Eve… in August.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, the media piece started as just a print article, then grew into print plus video. Yesterday, I was told that the snowball has grown. Tomorrow on ABC7 Marie Wilson will be sharing my story! She is the reporter that I met with, and who has helped to continue growing this.

I am extremely grateful to her and Bev for everything that they’ve done and continue to do for me. To re-cap for everyone:

Triathlon @ Centennial Beach (Naperville): 7A Start
Daily Herald Print Article – Sunday Edition
Daily Herald Video Piece – Online on dailyherald.com on Sunday
ABC7 Piece – On TV @ 8:45A, online on abc7chicago.com at some point on Sunday or Monday.

Hope to see a lot of you out there tomorrow! 🙂