Thursday, April 21, 2011

A hint of bitter, and oh SO SWEET

Times like this make me wish cliches weren't... well.. cliches.  It's so common for people to use the phrase "it feels like a dream", and I'm not saying it's always fake or misplaced when people use it... but sometimes, and this time included, I wish I came up with the phrase myself because it captures exactly how I've been thinking and feeling since this past Friday.

Short story time (for those of you who don't know what I'm talking about, this should help clear it up). So this past Friday, after finishing up the last class of the week I was taking my daily ~1.5mi walk back to my car... checking my email on my phone I see something that starts with "Congratulations Ford Ironman World...".  After a thousandth of a second worth of excitement, I get over it and realize that it's probably an announcement of who won this year's highly coveted Kona lottery spots.  But wait... they didn't send out a similar email last year... <big smile> hmmmm.  Still walking, I press to open the email while controlling every ounce of me to just wait a couple seconds before going crazy... I mean, there's no reason for me to torture myself over suspicion.  I swear it took minutes for my phone to open the email (realistically, a couple seconds)...  sure enough, the rest of the email subject  "Conrgatulations Ford Ironman World Championship Lottery Winner!".  Stopping in the middle of the walkway, I'm still skeptical... I have to read every word of the email before giving in to this surge of excitement... after seeing my registration password and some more intricate details, I gave in!  Immediately, I start calling the people closest to me to tell them this truly unbelievable news... first on the list was my double Iron crew  :)  Most of my crew didn't even know that I submitted for the lottery... you can call it superstition or whatever, but mostly, I knew the probability of getting a lottery slot on my first try was miniscule to next-to-nothing... so I didn't want anyone to deal with the hope of getting this outcome, except me.  Also... I simply didn't want to jinx it (call me crazy, but whatever... it worked)!  I'm still not entirely sure what was going through my head when I submitted for the lottery because I had previously decided not to waste the money ($40 I think)... it was really a spur of the moment thing, where I saw an Ironman email and simply decided to buy the lottery "ticket" a few days before the deadline.

Since that afternoon, I've been feeling like I'm in a dream... I'm literally waiting for this agonizingly teasing dream to end.  One of the first things I did when reading that email was pinch myself and count my fingers on each hand (I've read that if you do this in a dream you'll count something other than 10... and I still have 10!).  I cannot get over this amazing stroke of luck that I've had, and I plan to take full advantage of it.  This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that thousands of others would give anything for, and I am not going to take that for granted!!  I may not have earned this spot with a top-3 performance (i.e. traditionally qualify), but I am going to train as if I did!!  Here's to what will hopefully be a perfect training season!

The double?  Well... you do the math.  With the double Iron starting on the same morning as Ironman Hawaii, I simply cannot do both races... for this sole reason, the Ironman Hawaii news does come with the slightest, minute hint of bitterness.  I'm trading off a once-in-a-lifetime feat for a once-in-a-lifetime dream... for every (or, nearly every) triathlete, the ultimate success is lining up in Kailua Bay and getting your swim on at the sound of a cannon.  Even for non-triathletes, this is a huge deal... it is THE Ironman race about which everyone knows!   This said... it sucks to have to cancel my double Iron registration, but I didn't have to think twice about this decision.... I'm Kona-bound!!  (wondering what will happen with the blog now... we'll see)

Oddly enough, I'm more intimidated by Ironman Hawaii than the double Iron in Virginia... speaking with a good friend (a while back) who has podium finished in Hawaii, he said that this race is the ultimate Ironman challenge.  Every race has it's unique challenges, but very few (if any) contain the brutal combination of challenges that only Kona provides.  There's a reason why it is the championship race for the best of the best.  It's going to be a day of ultimate pain that I'll thoroughly enjoy and never forget... I'll simply cross my fingers for an injury-free season!!

This changes my training plans, but not in a devastating way... training for a double is not entirely different than training for an Ironman.  The most notable difference is the long weekend workouts are longer for a double, and there are less tempo (anaerobic) workouts for a double.  This said, no major changes there... but there are always unique challenges with every training season, so we'll see how that goes.

I'm not entirely sure how this blog will change... this was initially set up to share my unique training experience for my first double Ironman.  Since there are a good amount of regulars for my blog and a bunch more sporadic readers, I'll continue the usual updates with a change in destination  :)

One more thing, my brother found a quick description from Ironman about typical weather on race day...
"What is the weather typically like on race day? 
Temperatures on race day range from 82 to 95 degrees, with the humidity hovering around 90 percent. Crosswinds on portions of the bike course sometimes get as high as 60 mph."

And more course descriptions... definitely a good read, in my opinion!!
Ironman Hawaii Course Description 

Till next time... Stay healthy & be happy!!!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Don't be the best, just keep getting better

Before I get into the more obvious good news, I realize that it's been way too long since my last post here and several things have happened since then.  So to keep this to a reasonable length, I'm going to split all these updates into two separate posts

About a week or two ago, I got an opportunity to get some medical advice from a friend-of-a-friend podiatrist over the phone, Dr Shelly Levulis (  Obviously this advice was in regards to my bunion issues.  My biggest worry with those issues was the risk of the unknown... I simply couldn't get consistent and detailed information through my online research, so I couldn't come to a conclusion if there was the chance of long-term risks of running with advanced bunions.   Some of my research hinted that there was significant risk of irreversible damage by pushing through the pain of advanced bunions.  Fortunately, by talking with Shelly, I first learned that my bunions are not in the advanced stage, but rather light to moderate.  Additionally, (and definitely the best piece of news from the discussion) I have no reason to be worried about irreversible foot damage... irreversible, meaning not surgically fixable.  This sounds like a run-of-the-mill piece of good news, but this was really a turning-point in my mindset for training for the double Iron... at this point, I was 100% certain that I had nothing in my way to do this race!!  This was such a big deal with my mental preparedness that I remember the date and marked it as a major benchmark... Monday, April 4  :)

Now this doesn't really mean that I'm completely out the woods yet though, since I do have to find ways to manage and reduce the pain that I have to deal with on long runs. To help with this part of the problem, I had to take several steps that include new wide running shoes, wide cycling shoes, and (per Dr Shelly's advice) orthotics.  Fortunately, I already got new running and cycling shoes, but still need to make my move on getting orthotics.  After trying on several pairs of running shoes at Academy, I decided to go with Mizuno's Wave Rider 14 (wide)... I cannot express this enough, but I finally know what a good-fitting shoe is supposed to feel like!!  I never realized that my previous shoes were a bad fit until I put these new kicks on... AMAZING!!  And as for the running feel of the shoe,  after getting used to the added weight and different shoe construction... my gait has become very consistent and controllable.  I've always been a huge fan of Mizuno, and these shoes definitely get the Bernzy Stamp of Approval (BSA)!  I also bought a few other goodies, as you can see in the pic below.

And, though you might not remember from my last post, but I was going to try to get a pic of the Rudy Project backpack that I got recently.  In short, if you're looking for a good-looking, low-profile bag that stands up the mother nature's elements well... this gets a several BSA's!!  Thanks Rudy, for putting out some really great products and standing strong to the big corporations!!  For those who don't know Rudy well, it's a relatively small company that puts out some great eyewear and athletic gear for triathletes, golfers, shooters (aka gunmen?), etc etc... let me know if you're looking to by any Rudy gear and I'll likely be able to share my 40% discount  :)

Now... let's move on to the OTHER big news...  :)

Till then... Stay healthy & be happy!!!

edit:  One last thing... for those of you in PA, if you're ever in need of a great, friendly podiatrist that takes the time to make sure you're well informed about what exactly is going on with your feet... I HIGHLY suggest giving Dr. Shelly & Co. a call/email  --->

edit #2:  I forgot one product review... the fuel belt that you can see in the first picture was something I bought since I knew I would need it for my very long runs planned for the HOT summer months.  In short and to be honest, I wasn't impressed with this.  I've always avoided buying fuel belts bc of concern that it would bounce too much for comfort causing chafing... also, I had a feeling it would make me feel sluggish bc of he extra weight.  Turns out, both of those concerns are true... oh well.  That said, some people LOVE these things and won't run without it... if you want to try it out, anyone is free to borrow mine.  Just let me know

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Fate is what you make of right now

Since I was trying to keep the most recent post short, I didn't include something that I've wanted to start including in most, if not all, of my posts.   After thinking about it some more, I should have included it because it's an important addition to this blog, in my opinion.

So what is "it"?  I'm going to start giving shout-outs to family, friends, and others for making athletic accomplishment(s) big and small...  unfortunately, this blog doesn't get enough hits to make their accomplishments well-known, but every little bit counts and they deserve every bit of recognition.  I already had a few people in mind, so here it goes....

Shout-out numero uno goes to Allison&Avery for the Galveston beach 5k I mentioned in the previous post.   Avery took the beach 5k like a champ and finished in 45 minutes-ish.  Yea 45 minutes may seem like a slow time for the common runner, but with Avery being 6 and the run being on sand??  That's bad-ass... she'll be a marathoner in no time  ;)

Number two is preemptive (and I apologize for that, Donna) goes out to Donna Adams who will be competing in her first 70.3 (1/2 Ironman) in just two weeks.  This is the New Orleans 70.3 that Dustin and I did last year (the same 70.3 I said was my hardest race) and though it is a very flat course, mother nature sure can bring the HEAT!!  Good luck Donna, and enjoy a good ole Miller Lite after the finish... it's delicious!

Another shout-out must be given to my friend Andrew Brodbeck for a very impressive finish at the Dallas 1/2 marathon last weekend. I think he finished with a ~8:40 pace, which needless to say is pretty awesome.  This race was a build-up race for his first marathon later this season (sorry man, I already forgot the race specifics).  Keep up the good work man, I know your times have improved dramatically from your earlier 1/2 marathon this season... and in my opinion, improvement is VASTLY more important than actual performance.  Keep it up buddy!!

Finally, one more shout-out will go to Jen Vogel.  Jen got 1st female and 4th overall at the recent Florida Double-Iron triathlon... what else can I say to that??   Very awesome performance and amazingly consistent effort through the entire race.... welllllll done!!

Alright, that's all the shout-outs for today... if I've missed anyone or if you have someone who deserves a shout-out, please feel free to do so with a comment below!!

Also, if you are interested in buying anything from Rudy Project, please let me know and I'll give you my sponsorship code for 40% off.  I'd rather not post it for all of the internet to use, so just text me or send me a message on Facebook and I'll give you the gold!  I recently discovered that this can be shared, and I like to share

Stay healthy & be happy!!